Transit in rural America. An NPR radio story about rural transit in various parts of the US.
Nobody Lives Here ($), an exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum on the impact of I-5 on Chinatown.
Where people who move from King County go to ($).
Denver transit. (Alan Fisher video)
Toronto rail junction is completed. (RMTransit video)
Can North America have walkable cities? (RMTransit video)
It can have pedestrianized streets. (CityNerd video)
This is an open thread.
281 Replies to “Open Thread: Rural Transit”
WA Senate passes bill allowing duplexes, fourplexes in single-family zones ($)
HB1110 is headed back to the House for concurrence.
From the article:
The real trick will be if cities update their comprehensive plans to actually make construction of du/quad/six-plexes feasible.
Doesn’t this overrride lower zoning minimums in city plans? Why would the cities have to do anything? They can’t enforce illegal zoning requirements even if they’re still in the plans.
I think the point is that cities can perhaps still set requirements on other aspects, like minimum parking requirements, setbacks, impervious surface restrictions, etc. These can still draw limitations on what is “feasible” or financially reasonable to build.
My understandig is that HB1110 only overrides maxima on number of occupiable housing units per property, not things like FAR or setbacks or other more wonky limitations on construction that make multi-unit construction more difficult in places that are very disinterested in allowing dens(er) housing.
Also, the bill is going back to the House for reconciliation (not concurrence, which, if I understand correctly, is a different thing). I think there used to be a section regarding parking requirements, but I don’t know if that survived the Senate’s amendments.
In my humble opinion, I think this topic deserves its own post.
Here’s the link to the bill’s progress and all of of the relevant materials:
And, yes, concurrence and reconciliation are two different processes.
It still amazes me that while there are so many ways in zoning to control density — setbacks, FAR, lot sizes, lot coverage, parking — people freak out that maybe their neighbor might carve up a 4000 Sf house into two units.
Ironically, servants quarters and hired hands quarters were common in the homes of most wealthy people before 1900. Maybe the pitch should be “You too can have your servant live in their own unit on your lot.”
I’d be curious how many people who live on a half+ acre lot want that particular setup you just described. Maybe we should start a survey :)
Anecdotally, from a sample size of one that I know of (who, granted, live far outside the ST district), the answer is “none”, but I’m willing to be proven wrong… To be fair, they also do not have live-in servants (or servants of any kind), though occasionally they let their de facto child-in-law help out around the kitchen after we’re all done with dinner :)
Facetiousness aside, there are many reasons for people to value their larger lots. Privacy is one, space for hobbies is another. Whether they should be allowed to continue living in that situation or not is a story for another time, but I would be careful before painting all of them with too broad a stroke and calling them wealthy, or assuming that their values are those of the wealthy of a hundred years ago.
A person can still have a large lot with a single family house under this law, Anonymouse. Zoning is about restricting what owners of adjacent properties can do. So it’s not restricting anything; it’s merely giving property owners more choices.
I get that. I was only commenting on the last bit of your post, and the apparent implicit assumption that people who own large lots are desiring to be like the wealthy of a century and a bit ago, and thus that propaganda aimed in that direction will yield more housing units.
If that was not what you were suggesting, I sincerely apologize, and look forward to the clarification.
Clarification? I don’t understand.
I guess I might add that the reason that many people oppose allowing more units per lot is that they say it devalues the neighborhood. By pointing out that someone considered more of a servant or hired help could then live on their property in their own unit with the zoning law change, I’m merely providing a counter point to that opinion.
I will add that there are many people not in the super wealthy that would benefit from having live-in help on site. A good example is a 90-year-old couple in failing health who would prefer to have such help rather than live in assisted living at $10K a month.
“…people freak out that maybe their neighbor might carve up a 4000 Sf house into two units.”
Yeah, I don’t get it either. I just don’t understand the rationale behind the argument that creating other types of dwellings within a neighborhood is somehow detrimental to said neighborhood. I grew up in a 2-family house in NYC in a neighborhood that had a variety of dwelling types. After that I lived in many different apartments in duplexes, rowhouses, multiunit buildings, etc. on both sides of the country. Some neighborhoods I liked more than others for various reasons but I never once thought, boy, if this neighborhood only allowed SFH’s it would be so much better.
My current home happens to be an older home on a half-acre lot controlled by SnoCo’s zoning scheme. Over the years since owning my property it has been rezoned twice for higher density uses. (It can now be developed for multifamily use actually.) But even some twenty years ago the zoning in place at that time allowed for a duplex. I think it’s crazy that so many jurisdictions in our region, including Seattle, have limited this very modest increase in density on so much of their designated residential land.
Perhaps not servants nowadays, but with the Boomers going into retirement and needing elderly care, allowing additional private quarters, that can be designed more accessible from the outset, on one’s own property is really a no -brainer. Not to mention the potential for rental income if you would otherwise be on a fixed income and you live in either the main house or the “mother in law” apartment.
I’m not disputing that it’s a useful thing to do, and many people may choose to do so (we ourselves are contemplating a remodel that would allow my parents-in-law to live with us as they continue to age, and our property isn’t anywhere as large; but our jurisdiction would have allowed it anyway).
My only issue was with the implication that people who live on half acre lots are all somehow susceptible to a desire to appear “wealthy” in a way that those from over a century ago might have. I get that it was a likely facetious argument; but it is one I found a little distasteful, as the only examples of people in that situation whom I am personally familiar with have a very different mindset (though, as I said, they also live far outside the ST district).
To the “character of the neighborhood” bit, though – I believe that in Bellevue specifically the Bridal Trails neighborhood was set up with large (half acre+ lots) specifically to appeal to those interested in equestrian activities. I’m not personally familiar with the history, though – I’m curious if Mike or Sam (who I believe both live, or have lived, in the general area) would have more to say about the history. I could imagine such a setup being desirable to some, and thus changing the character of the overall neighborhood could be viewed as undesirable, despite the advantages it would also bring.
Should this be allowed to continue? I’m not claiming that – but I can see how others could wish for it. I also doubt that the proposed law actually being enacted will cause a significant change in the character of the neighborhood, though – it’s desirable enough that the large properties will likely just draw even more of a premium and remain mostly untouched.
“Perhaps not servants nowadays, but with the Boomers going into retirement and needing elderly care, allowing additional private quarters, that can be designed more accessible from the outset, on one’s own property is really a no -brainer. Not to mention the potential for rental income if you would otherwise be on a fixed income and you live in either the main house or the “mother in law” apartment.”
Brandon, MI allows a DADU/ADU on any residential lot. Most eastside cities do, so this SFH only zone concept just does not exist. Bellevue does not allow DADU’s, but allows 5% more GFAR than MI, so you see more ADU’s in Bellevue.
The debate over DADU/ADU’s during Seattle’s recent zoning changes was whether the property owner must live onsite if renting out one of the units, and parking minimums for a DADU/ADU. HB 1110 allows a city to require 2 onsite parking stalls for each “plex” on a lot. MI right now does not require additional parking for a DADU or ADU, but my guess is that will change because parking minimums must be the same for a SFH, SFH + DADU, or multi-plex. Since there is no neighborhood transit on MI and in most eastside cities parking minimums keep the streets that generally have no sidewalks from becoming parking lots, like Seattle’s neighborhoods. Some cities also require the garbage/recycle/yard waste bins be inside.
Nathan asked a good if rhetorical question: will cities use their regulatory tools to make unwanted zoning mandates more difficult. What do you think? One problem is those changes could end up hurting things like DADU’s, like suddenly requiring two onsite parking spots for DADU’s when today there are no parking limits, because all dwellings must be treated the same and the city wants to require 2 onsite parking spots per “plex”.
Interestingly Harrell just announced his new zoning changes. https://harrell.seattle.gov/2023/04/11/mayor-harrell-advances-innovative-industrial-and-maritime-strategy/ Based on HB 1110 today Seattle will not have to upzone at all if it does not want to, and Harrell’s new plan suggests to me he won’t upzone the SFH zones above current Seattle zoning, and this is Harrell’s way of preempting progressive calls for him to upzone Seattle’s SFH zones (the folks who elected him) based on HB 1110.
They’re obviously wealthy if they can afford a quarter-acre lot, or any lot in the Eastside, unless they bought it thirty years ago. But many aren’t wealthy enough for full-time servants, and technology has lessened the need for them. It used to take all day to cook, and somebody else to fetch water and keep the fireplaces stocked. Servants lived in an extra bedroom or in a simple cottage. Nowadays most want to live in town, and cottages are lavish like the main house. So ADUs are more likely for family or mid-wealth renters, not servants. Sometimes on-site renters have an arrangement to mow the lawn or do woodworking or cook three times a week for a discount, but that’s not really a servant and is not treated as such. In college I had a colleague who lived in an elderly man’s house in Montlake; the man liked the security of having a young person about; but that’s not a servant either.
I don’t know much about Bridle Trails. The only lots I’ve seen are the ones visible from 116th. Some have business-style signs, so I always assumed they were working farms; e.g., doing horesback lessons for kids or such.
My family had a 50-acre lot in Lakewood; it was subdivided and sold in the 60s. My grandparents reserved one 10-acre lot for a tennis/swim club and open space, and helped a nonprofit get established to run it. The deed said “no residences” except they may build a “caretaker’s cottage”. That was presumably common in the early 20th century when Lakewood was rural. The cottage was never built, and I doubt a caretaker would live on-site nowadays.
(In the 2000s the club wanted to build condos on the open-space half. I didn’t care but my older relatives objected. The club sued to overturn the “no residences” deed restriction. We won at trial court but lost on appeal, so presumably the condos have been built and sold.)
Oh, and Bridal Trails is in Kirkland, not Bellevue. Are you thinking of the other lot at at 156th & NE 24th Street? I call it “The Office Park with the Big Lawn”. I know even less about it, but I’ve heard something about it having equestrian or park origins. The store across from it used to be our Safeway. After I left it became Uwajimaya and then Trader Joe’s.
There is definitely a neighborhood called “Bridle Trails” in Bellevue, according to the city’s own website:
“Bridle Trails includes Bellevue’s equestrian neighborhood area, with acres of residential property devoted to pastures and trails for horses. Although many Bridle Trails residents aren’t part of the equestrian culture, residents enjoy the vast green spaces and peaceful ambience found here.
Bridle Trails is heavily wooded, with an extensive trail system and a predominance of large single-family lots. Nearly two-thirds of the area is covered with second-growth timber and residents have accepted extra regulation to protect trees on public and private property.”
I was specifically curious about the “extra regulation”, and how that will play out given the potential zoning changes.
I am surprised that you are not more familiar with Bridle Trails, since you have mentioned growing up in the vicinity. However, the rest of the information you shared about your family’s history is interesting, and informative – thank you for sharing.
I didn’t know about that one, and I don’t know why it’s not part of Redmond. I grew up a mile from that Trader Joe’s, but I never knew any horse people. The Bellevue-Redmond border is squiggly around 24th. I thought the Overlake Village Safeway and Sears were in Bellevue because that was our local shopping center, but in-store announcements said they’re in Redmond. So if Bridle Trails 2 is north of that, I’d think it would be in Redmond. But who knows. My elementary school switched from the Lake Washington school district to the Bellevue school district while I was there.
However, a Bridle Trails near Microsoft may be connected to the Office Park with the Big Lawn, or might have been earlier.
A 370 unit apartment building is planned for the north edge of the Bridle Trails neighborhood. It’s along the route 245 bus line. Currently, I believe there is a bowling alley, and a few other assorted small businesses on the parcel. It’s an ok location for apts. On a bus route. Near a high school. Next to a grocery store. But, it’s such a isolated part of Kirkland that the future apt residents are probably going to be very auto-dependent.
Actually, I did know one horse person in elementary school. Her name was Denise, and we called her Horsey Denisey. I never knew if she had anything to do with Bridle Trails. Later in junior high, she was one of the people who, like me, hung out in the U-District.
I’ve heard a few sports figures live in Bridle Trails. I suppose they like the privacy the larger lots provide. Speaking of homes and sports figures, a former Seahawks player’s $26M home has now been for sale for one full year. It’s next to Chism Beach in Bellevue. Oddly, the waterfront mansion is in an equity priority area.
The equity sites are doubtless the 1950s/60s apartments on Bellevue Way.
Rachel Smith, Chamber lead, formerly with ST and Constantine, has guest piece in Urbanist: build Link as suggested.
Note the ST3 measure had a much better transfer at the CID. We good choices made in 2016 or not?
Simultaneously, GM Timm seems to suggest a greater emphasis on current service and maintenance.
CEO Julie Timm seems to be having a tangible impact on rider experience improvements. I don’t know how often Rogoff used ST’s services (outside of photo ops), but Timm seems to making an earnest effort to understand how the system works, and more importantly, where it doesn’t.
I agree. I take link daily and see more security personnel and fare ambassadors. I also see progress with the install of the new fare paid zones that at Westlake have led to the relocation of card readers and the addition of new yellow tactile strips. There’s also been new brighter lighting added at Mt Baker Station to increase visibility and safety. I’m seeing a noticeable small improvements in many places.
I was going to mention the relocated TVMs. They’re in front of the southbound escalator instead of on the back wall behind it. This also means they’re in front of the elevator. It makes me wonder why ST put them on the back wall in the first place. I haven’t seen northbound yet.
For many, being able to open up a FREE ORCA account on one’s smart phone, immediately load money in the account’s e-purse, and immediately purchase any pass currently loadable on ORCA cards, and from any station to any other station, will hopefully soon make the vending machines moot for most rides for most riders.
I fear the ORCA pod won’t realize how much they are hobbling the system by charging for opening an ORCA account, and that the infrastructure maintenance costs will end up being more than the account-opening revenue.
typo: Did we make good choices in 2016 or not?
If you mean specifically the ST3 proposal, my answer would be no. Even at its well-underestimated capital cost given at the time, the bulk of the projects were, and are, incredibly wasteful spending for the intended benefit.
Three lines which should be repeated ofteh, everywhere in publications throughout the ST Service Area.
Only the Redmond extension, I-405 STRide, the infills and (maybe) Ballard, depending on the station locations and accesses, are anywhere near worth what will be spent on them
Very well said, sir.
I agree with Tlsgwm.
I don’t think we know yet.
It’s possible that all the 2016 vote delivers is:
– ST2 completion, including Link to Redmond & FW (deferred prior to the vote)
– Shovel ready TDLE & some detailed studies/EIS on WSLE, Everett Link, and South Sounder
Which strikes me as a pretty successful period prior to a regional rethink and a new vote in ’26 or ’28.
I voted for Ballard Link, West Seattle Link, Tacoma Dome Link, and Paine Field / Everett Link in 2016. I would heartily do so again, even with a negative-value second downtown light rail tunnel. If all that was on the ballot was a stub line to Ballard, I’m not sure how I would have voted.
I remain optimistic that ST won’t cheap out on fleet, ROW priority, or frequency for STRide the way the City did on the streetcars.
I’m even excited for Sounder to DuPont, if for no other reason that it gets us within goggle distance of Sounder to Lacey and maybe even Olympia.
I’m not seeing anyone here who has changed their vote.
Agree – I haven’t seen any ST3 supporter in Pierce or Snohomish change their mind. WSBLE has gotten worse, Stride has gotten better, and otherwise ST3 project scope & proposed benefits are unchanged from what was promised in 2016.
Lynnwood to Mariner is probably worth it. Fast growing area, connects to the Swift BRT. Mariner to Everett, and not even in downtown Everett, much less so!
Less familiar with the south side, but I get the feeling Federal Way is already going to be a VERY long ride into Town, improving Sounder would be better for points south. Also there’s the whole not really going *in* to Tacoma. Could be salvaged if the T-Dome area were massively redeveloped and/or an extension to Tacoma Mall with a complete redevelopment, but these are huge IFs.
We thought Federal Way and Tacoma Dome would take longer on Link than ST Express, but when I recalculated it last year I found that Tacoma Dome had caught up, and Federal Way had caught up peak hours. Because increasing congestion is slowing down the buses.
Sounder is not an option if you’re traveling weekends, off-peak, or reverse-peak. So relying on just Sounder means no improvement most of the time.
I read the article and was going to add it to the open thread, but it said so little that there was nothing to add. It’s a former staffer saying add staff and improve board-staff relations. It also says to implement the technical advisory committee’s recommendations. Some of those are good, but some of them also say to stop accepting community alternatives and to not study unlikely alternatives. If that had been in place, 4th Avenue Shallower wouldn’t have made it into the EIS, and there’d be no chance for Single-Tunnel.
Unless she says something like, “we need to say no to special interests” or “we need to make hard decisions” or “we must make sacrifices today to create better transit for our future children,” then the recommendations are a big nothing burger. The primary cost problem with ST, especially with WSBLE, is surplus extraction, particularly a complete unwillingness of our current political leadership to tolerate construction impacts in the 2030s to create a better life for everyone (riders and neighborhood non-riders) in perpetuity.
Except part of the problem is that even with the highest construction costs currently under consideration, the options on the table are not as good, in a lot of ways, as doing “almost nothing” (e.g. the best DSTT2 vs. interlining WS and a stand-alone Ballard line).
I get that you explicitly said “the primary __cost__ problem” (emphasis mine) but I might argue that the primary cost problem is that none of it is worth the cost, not that there’s no political will to do the best thing on the table. And the things that _are_ worth doing are potentially cheaper.
I sorta agree. Yes, it may be that a single-tunnel approach is better. But I think it’s hard to argue that a well designed 2nd tunnel, with shallow, well placed stations, built at Turkish or Korean cost per mile, is not an excellent project.
Right, I don’t disagree with that – but is that remotely feasible given the other constraints (run down under 5th Ave. etc.)?
I don’t remember who posted a map with a vastly different path for a 2nd tunnel that goes through First Hill, before making its way back towards SLU – that would be a potentially much more useful project, but it’s not in scope for ST3. Neither is the single tunnel (so far), hence my comment that as planned the options on the table are not worth the cost.
I read Smith’s piece. Basically, she says nothing, unless you read closely and understand she was once with ST and Constantine (although I don’t see “build Link as suggested” in the title or article).
“Growing the team”.
“Continuously improving decision-making”.
What does that mean? The estimated cost for WSBLE has gone from $6 billion to $14.6 billion, TDLE and East Link have been delayed for several more years, Everett Link is not affordable. Isn’t it a little late to grow the team, build trust and improve decision making? What Smith is really saying is no one downtown believes ST can deliver DSTT2 as promised, and the stakeholders think no amount of disruption is worth the benefits of DSTT2.
Smith goes on:
“That is why the Chamber will continue to work hand-in-hand with Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and our partners to address the outstanding issues around the Denny Station location in South Lake Union and develop a robust mitigation program that both avoids and mitigates impacts at the downtown stations.”
“In March, Sound Transit reached a key milestone in our generational investment in transit. The Board of Directors identified the preferred station locations for the light rail extension from downtown Seattle to Ballard. The decision strikes the difficult balance of meeting the community’s interests while living within the fiscal constraints of the entire Sound Transit 3 (ST3) program, which will bring light rail not just to Seattle, but to Everett, Tacoma, and Issaquah. The agency will now complete the environmental review process and begin preliminary engineering.”
“This action follows the unanimous decision by the Board on the preferred station locations to West Seattle, which was a testament to the power of outreach and community agreement.”
This means CID N/S are done deals (and no doubt the Chamber and DSA were involved in those decisions, and the elimination of the midtown station), and there was and will be no outreach. The Chamber does not care about TDLE or Everett or Issaquah Link, or Ballard or WS, except downtown businesses don’t trust ST.
As I have noted before, the next big fight is SLU, which Smith makes clear when she states, “address the outstanding issues around the Denny Station location in South Lake Union and develop a robust mitigation program that both avoids and mitigates impacts at the downtown stations.”. What downtown stations? Mitigation so far has meant eliminating stations downtown.
“Only if the agency’s delivery program is reset can there be a real conversation about how the second transit tunnel in downtown Seattle will be constructed. I often say we need to embrace all the things that are true. It is true that we have to accept there will be real disruption with the construction of light rail. It is also true we will refuse to accept disruption that deeply undermines our efforts to revitalize downtown.”
“We have to embrace all the things that are true?” Sounds corny, or at least axiomatic, but what Smith is saying is no one believes ST.
What this really says is now you know why a station at midtown and at the CID got axed, and the Chamber and DSA are opposed to any tunnel or station disruption in the downtown core, and SLU. The conversation is actually over.
Revitalize downtown before transit, which is the water Harrell has been told to carry. After all, anyone know how to build a tunnel under 5th Ave. that won’t disrupt the effort to revitalize downtown? https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/16th-street-mall-exemplifies-downtown-denvers-struggles/ar-AA19IvYg
Key word: REvitalize.
The CEO of the Chamber has to be political, and this piece if you read it carefully basically says what I have been saying about CID N/S and the stakeholders behind the scene, and how Harrell sees revitalizing downtown Seattle as existential and transit as eh, but I don’t quite know why The Urbanist ran this article. It isn’t like The Chamber and The Urbanist are close.
If you are an advocate for interlining a single tunnel for all three lines this article should give you hope because Smith is saying the Chamber does not think DSTT2 is necessary downtown, ST can build it in a timely and competent way, is affordable, will have any stations between CID and Westlake, and there are some real issues with SLU.
“The decision strikes the difficult balance of meeting the community’s interests while living within the fiscal constraints of the entire Sound Transit 3 (ST3) program…”
I couldn’t stop chuckling at that part of the quoted material. All said with a straight face I’m assuming.
“What Smith is really saying is no one downtown believes ST can deliver DSTT2 as promised, and the stakeholders think no amount of disruption is worth the benefits of DSTT2.”
She says no such thing. She says full steam ahead.
“This means CID N/S are done deals”
The Chamber is one stakeholder, and is not on the ST board.
It’s odd that she focuses on SLU and West Seattle, when those seem to be less important issues.
“What downtown stations?”
Westlake2 and North of CID. She’s supporting DSTT2, in case you didn’t understand it.
“The agency will now complete the environmental review process and begin preliminary engineering.”
She wouldn’t say that if she thinks WSBLE is unaffordable and should be cancelled. Why finish the EIS and do engineering if you think the project is infeasible?
“Revitalize downtown before transit”
Where does she say that? She says, “we will refuse to accept disruption that deeply undermines our efforts to revitalize downtown.” That’s the same thing the CID activists were saying about construction impacts, and that others have said to avoid shutting down Link for months during construction. It’s what downtown people always say.
If “the stakeholders think no amount of disruption is worth the benefits of DSTT2” then that means that no tunnel to South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne can be built regardless of the alignment toward the south, because there has to be “disruption” to create the platforms comprising “New Westlake” or “Westlake 2”. That disruption would be either in the block south Pine between Fourth and Fifth of in the block north of Pine along Sixth.
So what the DSA and Chamber are essentially saying, if you are right, Daniel, is “you can build that piece of trash to West Seattle but leave us alone”. That is a dangerously short sighted viewpoint. South Lake Union really does need better transit. Maybe it could be elevated; Westlake is certainly wide enough to host it, but it needs to happen.
I found the author remarkably silent about rider needs. It’s a huge omission! Smith thinks the project is about building rather than serving. It makes me want to scream!
I also laughed at lines about urgency and fiscal responsibility. The additional costs are already delaying WSBLE and the delay can only get worse by proposing a completely different stations that make transfers worse.
Our political power brokers are more interested in property owners and reputations rather than riders.
Can we put Smith in the literal limousine liberal camp along with the others? Heaven forbid any of them ever has to use the system that they’re wanting to build.
Well, that was a remarkably vacuous pile of platitudes to read. Nowhere did she say “build Link as suggested” as you claim eddiew. She heaped paeans of praise on the “the staff” and for the rest of it, said nothing substantive.
She’ll be Constantine’s Chief of Staff for sure.
Alas, I see that I’m echoing Daniel; will wonders never cease? However, as always except when I’m blathering on about some technical detail, I used a LOT fewer words.
“She’ll be Constantine’s Chief of Staff for sure.”
Lol. That comment made my day. I was thinking the exact same thing.
She looks very well qualified and experienced to author the article she did. Stints at county, county exec., ST, Chamber, city of Seattle, climate, transportation.
This tells me she has all the players on speed dial, and knows how to communicate publicly in a way stakeholders understand what she is saying when maybe others who are less nuanced may not.
My guess is her article was reviewed in advance by Constantine and Harrell, and probably ST, and several large downtown businesses.
A good question is why she chose The Urbanist for a very nuanced and to some vacuous article. No doubt The Seattle Times would have printed her article if asked. She definitely wanted to target and reach The Urbanist and STB crowd, and no doubt hopes they understood what she was really saying in government speak, and maybe wanted to hint she agrees with some of their concerns about ST. If she had wanted to reach the stakeholders she would have called them or gone to lunch.
If interlining is your goal I would email Smith rather than ST, but keep it professional.
My takeaway was CID N/S are the stations if ST can prove it can build DSTT2 on time and on budget because Smith and the Chamber no doubt signed off on that option before the DEIS hearing, and the real fight will be over SLU with big stakeholders and the same concerns the Chamber and DSA had over a midtown station that got axed. If you care about SLU I would work off Harrell’s ideas on station location and design. SLU does not have a redundant tunnel so it has to be right, and that is the heart of downtown these days.
The fact that we disagree so much on what she said indicates she wasn’t clear.
The Seattle Times article on the “Nobody Lives Here” exhibit at Wing Luke draws parallels between the I-5 construction and the upcoming Link light rail construction through the neighborhood. The memory of displacement from I-5 is worth remembering for all residents of the area, and it is particularly relevant to understanding how residents of the CID see themselves in relation to regional transport projects.
However, I was troubled by how the Seattle Times article failed to clarify what is at stake in the current debates. The article correctly notes that community mobilization influenced Sound Transit to take the most damaging options, 5th Ave, off the table. From there, the article misses opportunities to highlight the diversity of opinions within the CID. For example, the article quotes Brian Chow that the North of CID option suggests a failure to listen to the community. But not mentioned in the article is that the North of CID option itself was proposed in response to other activists afraid of construction impacts. Nor are the trade-offs of the current choices, like transit access vs. construction impacts, clearly identified.
I fear that in the desire to “emplot” a narrative of I-5 on the Link CID light rail station, observers will simplify a situation and a neighborhood that ought to be understood with more nuance. It is possible for CID residents to want multiple things: transit access on one hand, AND preservation of buildings and environmental quality on the other. Nor is the CID a monolith in any case, but full of diverse people with different needs and interests.
The danger of simplification is that the minimization of impacts will be elevated as if it is the only concern of residents, when that is clearly not true. At the board meeting last month, a majority of attendees and many community groups supported the 4th Ave option and opposed North of CID, choosing better transit access over the alternative that skips over the neighborhood. From my biased reading of the situation, administrators and politicians are making the error of simplifying the CID to something that it is not. Let us understand that this situation is complex; try to actually listen to what people are asking for (instead of letting our preconceptions rule); and go from there.
The difference is that freeways destroy community while subways build it. Freeways have a larger footprint, and encourage people to live just anywhere, and shop at gas-station mini-marts and big-box stores at freeway exits. Subways encourage people to concentrate and live and shop with walking distance of stations, and to have good bus feeders for those who can’t. The CID is exactly the kind of place where people would get out of a station and walk a few steps to a shop that’s right on the sidewalk, and where residents would walk to the station.
Mike, I agree that subways generally support the neighborhood and the CID needs great transit. While the streetcar’s construction impact certainly hurt the CID at least short term, at least it didn’t displace people as I-5 or the Metro tunnel did.
When I looked at the original West Seattle plans, it certainly reminded on the impact of I-5 construction: it cut through the North Delridge neighborhood (originally built for steel workers) to serve the wealthy Junction neighborhood. Sound Transit’s latest plans have reduced the impact somewhat, but there is still quite some loss of housing and businesses for a questionable transit benefit. Something the Seattle Times article does not mention either.
“simplifying the CID to something that it is not”
That sums up the general American attitude toward cities, suburbs, and transportation. It’s what makes American cities and transportation different from the rest of the industrialized world. Making cities into non-cities. Pretending a neighborhood of fifth-acre lots is blessed rural. Acting like non-walkability is normal, and resisting attempts to make things more walkable, and ignoring the needs of those under 16 or too old or disabled to drive.
Seattle neighborhood displacement in 1910
Come to think of it, Bellevue should have done a little of that when they had the chance. Level the hill out between 106th and 112th, from the downtown area, south to where Bellevue Way and 108th meets. Too late.
“Only if the agency’s delivery program is reset can there be a real conversation about how the second transit tunnel in downtown Seattle will be constructed. I often say we need to embrace all the things that are true. It is true that we have to accept there will be real disruption with the construction of light rail. It is also true we will refuse to accept disruption that deeply undermines our efforts to revitalize downtown.”
I don’t take that as full steam ahead Mike. “Resetting the program’s delivery” just to get to a “real conversation” about how DSTT2 will be constructed (after the midtown station was eliminated in secret) sounds pretty impossible to me, because what I think she is saying is no disruption to downtown. As I have noted before, pay careful attention to the station(s) in SLU. Those are some powerful stakeholders.
Like Tisgwm I chuckled when I read, “”The decision strikes the difficult balance of meeting the community’s interests while living within the fiscal constraints of the entire Sound Transit 3 (ST3) program…” It is a funny statement if one thinks Smith believes WSBLE or ST 3 are remotely within the fiscal constraints of ST 3 (N KC subarea revenue). My guess is she is smarter than that, and is taking the Board’s vote with a grain of salt. I think she is saying no way DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion or WSBLE $ 14.6 billion, but show me the money before you start digging.
Who knows Mike, Smith and the Chamber may be your interlining knight in shining armor.
“Resetting the program’s delivery” sounds like another realignment. You keep saying DSTT2 and WSBLE are unaffordable no matter what ST does, absent a large influx of money. I don’t see Smith saying that, or the Chamber if this is their opinion.
No Mike, I don’t think the word “delivery” means affordability, which as you note I have always questioned, even when WSBLE was $9 billion. I think it means the ability to provide (deliver/construct) the promised projects on time with a minimum of disruption and within budget.
Looking at East Link, FW Link, TDLE, the recent changes to DSTT2, the Chamber is unwilling to allow ST to begin a 10-year construction project to build DSTT2 downtown based on ST’s promise it will deliver what it promises. This is exactly the same conclusion the CID came to, and I am sure both seriously question any kind of ridership estimates or benefits ST claims for DSTT2.
ST has just destroyed its credibility to deliver projects on time within the budgets it promised. I am not sure how ST can restore or “reset” that trust at this point with disasters at FW, TDLE, East Link, and soon SLU. Can you think of any way ST can restore trust with the Chamber with the projects it is working on now in order for the Chamber to trust ST with a 10-year tunnel under 5th Ave. when downtown is trying to revitalize despite the loss of the peak work commuter? I can’t. If I were the Chamber I would say no way is ST going to start digging a tunnel under 5th its cost it has underestimated by half when it can’t build Link on the surface. The CID and Chamber agree on that.
Central Link opened years after projected / “promised”. And yet, that didn’t stop voters from wanting more light rail.
Central Link opened years after projected / “promised”. And yet, that didn’t stop voters from wanting more light rail.
I think the perception of those delays mattered. Basically, the folks in charge apologized, and said they fixed the problem. They even went so far to claim that new projects were underbudget and on time. This was true, but only with the new estimates (not the original ones). So I do think delays and cost overruns can effect voter approval, but it really depends on how it is perceived by the public.
Seeing more tents on the I-405 off-ramp in downtown Bellevue. Maybe it’s a blessing that East Link isn’t operational yet.
What does East Link have to do with tents on a 405 ramp?
East Link is going to hug close to the highways and provide a relatively fast conduit from Westlake. My feeling is once East Link opens, the visible homeless will increase significantly on the Eastside. Highway camps have proven hard to sweep with all the jurisdictional issues and East Link suddenly opened a lot more territory for that camping. Yes, I know there are ST buses already but I think Link with large permanent stations near highways in addition to poor fare enforcement and more anonymity makes it a totally different ballgame for a junkie than getting on a suburban bus.
The tents have claimed all the highway ROW west of the future Jimi Hendrix Park Station (but are not in the station property itself), including right up to the bike trail. I honestly have not found them to be a threat, but a visible symptom of our antiquated housing and zoning laws.
As for the highway ROW, I still find lack of pedestrian and bike passage along and across freeways (including state highways) as a larger public safety threat than eyesore tents. My own neighborhood is cut off from its adjacent neighborhood because the state highway department refused to include sidewalks on the overpass connecting 14th Ave S and Des Moines Memorial Way across Highway 99. And so began the movement to “remove” the freeway when what we really need is installation of jersey barriers on the overpass to create pedestrian/bike passage on the cheap. With that pedestrian passage emplaced, South Park would have easy passage to a grocery store! I look forward to that ribbon being cut before I qualify for the RRFP in a mere 12 years.
I’m actually skeptical of the freeway removal movement in my neighborhood, given that we have non-at-grade crossings over and under Highway 99 right where they are needed most, with the exception of the missing sidewalks on 14th Ave S / Des Moines Memorial Way.
We could also stand installation of jersey barriers to create pedestrian/bike passage between South Park and Arrowhead Gardens, so South Parkers could walk up the hill to West Seattle. That steep stretch of Cloverdale-becoming-Roxbury could seriously stand a road diet to slow traffic down, and that is on the City and County, not the state or federal highway departments. And certainly not the fault of the tents and RVs.
Eastside Blues’s sentiment is a very common concern on the eastside for two reasons:
1. The demise of downtown Seattle. Every day there is a story on the news or in the paper about record violent crime, drugs, urine needles and feces on the trains (even on this blog), homelessness, revitalizing (a favorite word for the DSA and Chamber) 3rd Ave., dying retail, broken windows, reductions in police officers, inability to investigate felony sexual assaults, most of the council leaving after screwing up the city, etc. Since so few eastsiders go to Seattle anymore this is how their perception of Seattle is formed (and as someone who worked downtown for 32 years until last September the perceptions are pretty accurate). It doesn’t help when our kids return from the UW and tell us they won’t take Link, and hate Seattle.
2. More importantly, how little benefit East Link will be to such a tiny percentage of the eastside population. Fewer than 5% of eastsiders will take East Link with any regularity, few go into Seattle anymore on transit (or at all), they pretty much all own cars, first/last mile access is poor, parking free, the route at least today is poor and it is highly likely the upzoning will ever be realized, there is no need (work commuting to Seattle with expensive parking) to take East Link, or transit, and who knows what condition the trains will be in when they return to the eastside.
We talk about the Seattle Chamber’s or DSA’s or CID’s same balancing act with DSTT2 in which they sided against DSTT2 although on paper there is some benefit to them from DSTT2, just not enough for the disruption in their opinion, but there is no balancing act for East Link on the eastside because there is no plausible benefit. Eastsiders just combine the awful progressive policies that killed downtown Seattle with light rail.
There will be almost no benefit (certainly over express buses today) vs. the risk the poorly secured trains that have urine and feces in them when they get back to the eastside for us to wash will bring all the problems of Seattle to the eastside we moved here to get away from.
If eastsiders could see just some benefit from East Link we could maybe have the same conversation stakeholders are having over DSTT2, but we see none.
This feeling is reflected in how nonchalant eastsiders are about the delays to opening East Link because if you had a vote today a majority would vote to never open East Link. This ambivalence however is exacerbated by the recent upzoning bills that force upzoning on SFH residential zones near a light rail station — because the commercial areas like Bellevue Way didn’t want Link so Surrey Downs got a station — that won’t open for years and no one will use and is a big white elephant because ST is desperate to manufacture the ridership to even come close to all its lies about capacity and ridership we see infecting the decisions for DSTT2. The irony is our neighborhoods got upzoned because we got Link stations we never wanted and won’t use while the downtown Seattle stakeholders were able to defeat stations near them.
The eastside would have been better off if there had been no East Link, and I am not even talking about the cost which is irrelevant for the subarea. That pre-pandemic East Link light rail urban world is gone. ST is a cancer to a region like the eastside because ST will destroy anything to justify its lies about use, ridership, costs, benefit, capacity needs, just about everything.
Come on man, how do you really feel? Go ahead, let it all out. It will be good for you.
It posts like this are indicative of what has happened to dialog on this blog. It is a fundamental reason that this blog has lost so much of its influence locally.
Where are your facts that ST is as you assert?
It seems that DT sees himself as the One True Eastsider of the commentariat, as he often projects himself as the only voice speaking up for the (supposedly disempowered) wealthy living across from the unwashed masses populating the west coast of Lake Washington.
I always appreciate when DT’s contempt for Seattle shines through unadulterated by worries of getting his content moderated – it’s a good reminder that all of his inquiry is fundamentally in bad faith.
What an incredible distillation of DT’s beliefs. These are not the beliefs of someone who can meaningfully participate in this blog’s commentary.
Excellent word! Points awarded!
And that word sums up the approach some commentators currently have in this blog. Too many posts are devoid of fact and more a statement of ideology. Such posts aren’t useful and diminish the reputation of his blog.
But I’m with you, I know for a fact that DT’s views are not shared by a majority of Eastsiders. And I know for a fact that many Eastsiders are looking forward to the arrival of Link and intend to use it starting at day 1.
And all you have to do is to look at the success of NG Link to understand the power of both Lynnwood Link and East Link coming online. Even in a post pandemic world these extensions will be hugely successful.
DT can bang his shoe on the podium all he wants, but the East Link train has already left the station.
“DT can bang his shoe on the podium all he wants, but the East Link train has already left the station.”
When does it get here Lazarus? Our stations on MI have been completed going on two years now. We assume East Link will open someday, we just don’t know when. 2021, 2023, 2025….. I don’t know what station East Link left from, but it shouldn’t take it five years to get to MI.
The two simple facts are:
1. Current ridership on eastside ST buses when there is very little traffic and HOV lanes is what ridership on East Link will likely be, except the 554 will reduce ridership on East Link from bus levels today. I disagree that eastsiders will begin to ride transit because a train replaces a bus, and adds a transfer, to locations that today are not destinations like East Main, Wilburton, The Spring Dist., etc. Bellevue Way merchants were as enthused by Link as the CID and Seattle DSA/Chamber. I am not saying Link is a bad mode, just that folks who don’t need to ride transit don’t ride transit; and
2. Office occupancy and vacancy rates in downtown Seattle. Pre-pandemic that is where eastsiders mostly took transit to. Nathan gets agitated when I suggest Seattle is not perfect, but if 60% of the office workers are gone something is going on (and maybe why Harrell won by such a large margin), maybe just WFH. Why would an eastsider ride East Link if not going to downtown Seattle, the one place without free parking, when they have a car in the garage?
I understand you have drunk the cool aid when it comes to ST and Link, but think Metro is the devil. I have been involved with ST now since 2015 and do have some bitter feelings toward ST because ST was a bully, and is dishonest and incompetent, things I don’t think Metro is although I don’t ride Metro much (and can’t ride Link in the eastside).
For the vast majority of eastsiders ST and East Link don’t even exist, which should not be surprising since maybe 5% take transit today on the eastside. It will cost around $5.5 billion to run Link to Redmond, and around another $4.5 billion to run it from Issaquah to S. Kirkland, and I just don’t think very many eastsiders will ride it. They don’t hate East Link like you do Metro, and unlike Pierce Co. actually voted for ST 2 and 3, they just don’t NEED it.
It is ironic: the one subarea that can afford all these Link projects when the other subareas can’t just isn’t very interested in Link or transit. I will be interested to see if your Pierce Co. finds the money for TDLE, so they can take DSTT2 to Ballard.
A blog’s reputation is built solely on content. And by content, I mean posts. The comment section has no effect on a blog’s reputation. Most readers don’t even visit a blog or newspaper’s comment section.
Oh, for the days of goofy memes attached to monthly ST ridership reports. So informative and influential. I don’t think you are here because you think STB is lacking in influence, but because some policymakers do still take note of some of things posted in this blog, and you wish they did not. (I say this as someone who frequently disagrees with the views of the current caretakers of this blog, and probably everyone else in the commentariat at some time or another.)
The post today, as you might have noticed, is a news roundup, just like STB has always done, but with a little less snark than Martin used to insert. That’s most of the posts these days. We could stand more opinion pieces to break up the monotony. We’ve always been open to guest op-eds from the power players in the light rail debates.
If we’re going to blame link for homelessness on the eastside, let’s start with the original cause of homelessness on the eastside – I-90. Before they put sidewalks on the bridge it was an effective impediment to the unhoused non-car-owning Seattle homeless heading to Bellevue. Perhaps we should block the sidewalks? And impose tolls?
When I was taking this award-winning photograph of the newly built Wilburton Station Pedestrian Bridge, officially called the Eastrail NE 8th Street Bridge, I noticed that about 100 yards behind me on the unfinished trail, toward Home Depot, there was a small homeless tent village on the trail. The choice of that location for their tents has more to due with it being mostly out of sight, and being near the men’s homeless shelter on 116th and 5th, where I’m sure many of their friends stay, than it has to due with being near a transit line. I do think the Eastside will see the visible outdoor homeless population grow over the coming years, but I don’t think East Link will be any part of the cause.
— Tents: When visiting family in a Southeast Asian megacity years ago, I say lots of the population living in shacks made from scrap wood and metal, next to polluted rivers and garbage dumps. After witnessing that, a homeless encampment in North America is small potatoes. (Sure, it’s embarrassing that it happens in a wealthy democracy, but things could be far worse.)
— East Link: I’m an Eastsider who wholeheartedly supports Sound Transit coming to the burbs. I took the bus to college in Seattle in the ’80s, and continued to use Metro on the few days in the ’90s when I had work in Seattle in order to avoid the parking hassles. I’m definitely taking East Link when it opens for sports, events, and nights on the town, as I won’t have to sit through traffic like the busses do, and if I had an office job in Seattle, instead of my machining job in Woodinville, I’d be using it for my professional commute.
Seems like the sweeps are performing as expected
STB’s influence on policymakers has always been minor. If it had been major, Link would have had more stations, automated trains, open gangways, sideways-facing seats, 6-minute all-day Rainier Valley frequency, a center platform at Intl Dist for Eastside-airport type trips, and a better WSBLE. The D would have been where the 40 is. RapidRide would have more transit-priority lanes.
The difference now is we’ve lost the writers and editors who wrote daily opinion/research articles. Several authors have cycled through and got burned out, moved on, or got a job at a transit agency where they have to keep silent on these issues. So the blog has evolved into more of a news roundup. And I’ve gone to kind of a short-story form, a paragraph instead of just a link, so that’s an in-between format. We’re always looking for more authors to have more full-sized, researched articles again.
All right. But apart from the low-income fare card, center platforms at all new stations, adding stairs, opening up more stairs, mask dispensers, ORCA on the monorail, the end of the 42, all-day ST Express 512, ending downtown express routes that duplicate Link, replacing the night-owl loops with service on regular high-ridership routes, getting rid of mandatory parking minima in residential buildings near stations, bus lane cameras, and the transit sales tax to pay for more Seattle service, what have the government agencies ever done for us? (STB)
SDOT used to offer a daily clip sheet on transportation issues. It was intended for policy makers and had a limited distribution list, but it was pretty useful.
It was more frequent and more comprehensive than these STB news roundups, but it obviously didn’t have a comment section.
I dropped off their distribution list a few years ago (intentional on my part), but if they are still publishing it, maybe STB could save a lot of time and effort by just duplicating portions of it here.
SDOT used to offer a daily clip sheet on transportation issues.
They still do. Everyone who writes for the blog is a subscriber to that news feed. We occasionally list some of the items on open threads. To just copy the whole thing would be pointless and lazy (you can just go to the SDOT blog). We try to craft something interesting with the open threads, as Mike did here. It is harder than it looks — sometimes there just isn’t that much happening in the transit world.
In any event, Mike is referring to original stories, not the open thread. For example this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/03/21/capacity-limitations-of-link/. This involved real research and an interview (i. e. real reporting). The result was accurate information, and the dispelling of a myth that was common in the comment section. We still do articles like this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/, which does not contain original research. You can find this information using other sources, but it is still a very well written description of the situation. Then there are editorials, like this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/. We still do those. I did both, quite recently (maybe not as good Frank did, but the same basic idea).
We aren’t cranking out as many articles as we used to, and we certainly aren’t doing as much “real reporting”. But that is just one difference between us and say, The Urbanist. They also have a broader focus (e. g. https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/04/11/crisis-care-levies-and-school-bonds-the-subjects-of-april-special-election/). With more writers, this allows them to keep adding things every day. In contrast, most of here write when we feel like we absolutely have to. There is some subject so important that we have to craft a response — like the old days when writing a letter to the editor meant using pen and paper.
But perhaps the biggest difference is that the The Urbanist is a lot more involved with the community. They do “open house” type things with representatives. They go out and meet with people. This likely explains that guest editorial. They probably reached out to Rachel Smith (perhaps after meeting her). They are involved with Seattle Subway, and the Transit Riders Union. We aren’t. Oh, occasionally the Seattle Subway will write an editorial here, but I don’t think there is regular contact between the groups. For that matter, I have no idea how often people at this blog reach out to folks at The Urbanist. It is as if we treat them as competitors, when we both advocate for much the same thing (this looks like it could have been written by STB: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/01/11/ballard-spur-and-metro-8-subway-serve-seattle-better-than-interbay-light-rail/). I get it to a certain extent. Not too long ago, very few people read The Urbanist, and way more read this blog. They have stolen our thunder. Now we often serve as a comment section for their articles. Both groups should embrace this (Twitter arguments tend to be terse, and thus make it very difficult to express nuance). But instead, it is just one example, of our isolation. People are simply unaware of the good things that are written here.
Keep in mind, we are advocates first, and bloggers second. A lot of us have been very active in the background (communicating via email) trying to push for the single tunnel option. A lot of that was focused on the blog — trying to get the message right — but a lot of it was focused on pushing for what we feel is right. This is not what a reporter would do. A reporter would head where the center of action is: The CID. All the nerds were focused on the stations, the studies, the walking distance to and from platforms — essentially metal and dirt. A reporter would focus on the people. This whole controversy was centered around a neighborhood. A reporter would walk around and talk to the people, and discuss this with them. A reporter with an agenda (e. g. us) would do the same. A simple question like “Would you object to sending all the trains into the same tunnel” is quite reasonable, and could very easily change the narrative. That doesn’t mean we ignore those interested in other options (we don’t need to act like Fox News) but good reporting involves an exchange of ideas.
Thus the conundrum. As advocates, we aren’t willing to do the face-to-face work necessary for change. Reporters could do that work, but we don’t have any. So we keep making our calls for change in this little echo-chamber here, while we wait to tell everyone “we told you so”, when they inevitably build something really stupid that could easily have been avoided.
Some of the Open Thread links come from SDOT’s Daily Clips. I select the ones that are most relevant to our readership. I like The Urbanist, Human Transit, Pedestrian Observations, and Streetsblog but I don’t read them regularly, simply because I can’t read everything and those haven’t gotten into my routine. The Urbanist deserves kudos for some of its recent articles on transit, which are the kinds of articles STB used to write but isn’t doing as much of at the moment. At the same time, some other Urbanist articles delve into non-transit topics or have a highly progressive viewpoint that we don’t share. But that’s what’s great about multiple publications each with their own voice. STB editors do need to reach out more to the other organizations. I think it’s just that earlier we didn’t have to because we were the only ones regularly covering transit issues, but now that’s changed, and it’s taking STB some time to adjust to reaching out.
Hey Mike, is there a way I can get in touch with you about writing researched articles? I would love to contribute in some way.
I sent you an email, Andrew (and CCed Mike and Frank).
In regards to Alan’s video on Denver as someone who lives here, his points are about right. The A line gets pretty good ridership, mainly from service to the airport but also generally being reliable and frequent most of the day. The 0/0L and 15/15L are comparable in terms of routes that get similar ridership. On the other hand he is right about terrible land use around stations. Some are better than others. Off the top of my head Littleton-Downtown, & Olde Town Arvada are good examples of good land development outside the downtown core but they’re both well established main streets. You also have 38&Blake, Belleview, Colorado, and Alameda which have seen good redevelopment of industrial land use or Prarie land. On the other hand, you have stations like Airport Gateway, Central Park, Dry Creek, and Southmoor. Which just suffer from bad walkability, nothing being close to the station, or being an island in a sea of corporate offices, park and rides, and not much else. There’s hope that it may get better as two things have happened in the last few years. RTD is looking to convert some of their lots to redevelopment like Southmoor.
And Governor Polis in his current second and final term with the democratic majority legislature is pushing through a bill to change land use laws to remove SFH zoning to something similar to Minneapolis and Houston land use policy for allowing duplexes, townhouses, and ADUs in current SFH zoning in COs core metro areas and resort towns like the Front Range, Grand Junction, and Aspen/Eagle/Vail. Also would get rid of restrictions on unrelated roommate maximums, sq ft minimums, and housing growth limits. Municipalities are mad and saying that the Governor is basically calling them “stupid” for their housing and land use policy. Whereas I’m sitting here looking at politicians who sat on their hands about the problem while housing has become unaffordable as they kicked thw can down the road. Boulder in paticular is a place where you’re a college town where no student can realistically afford to rent in the city itself. Or even buy a home for that matter as a young professional. So there’s some actual hope for better housing and land use in the coming decade but we’ll see.
If you’ve got the time, Colorado Public Radio put together an excellent podcast explaining in detail what’s wrong with the Denver transit system: https://www.cpr.org/podcast/ghost-train/
The system had all sorts of problems. The cost was lowballed to get voters to say yes, and much of it was never built. The part that was built was too focused on suburbanites commuting to downtown, with very little walkability at any of the stations, and also nearly useless for anyone going anywhere other than downtown (or the airport). It also had a lot of stops and, even going downtown, was slower than driving, in all but the worst traffic. In the meantime, what was built came in way over budget, with the debt service payment for the rail starving the system of money to keep its buses running.
I second that podcast recommendation. I watched it a while ago and thought it was a pretty good summary of the issues.
An aside….I have to admit that I do sometimes long for the days of Stapleton, even with all of its weather-related issues, simply due to its proximity (akin to San Diego Intl) to the city center. But I can understand why they ultimately made the move based on their expansion needs and plans. The A line out to Denver Intl does seem slow in my experience but at least its an option now.
Christof Spieler talks about it in his book why Denver’s transit gets less ridership (though does concede it was built very very cost effectively) than others for its vast size. A major problem is that all the rail routes were chosen to be built in either old freight rail ways or freeway medians all with low density missing major corridors of density.
Though they are fixing it with potentially bus rapid transit on the Colfax corridor and Federal Boulevard
Dallas and LA did the same as Denver, focusing on easy ROW for rail rather than building expense ROW where the density is. All 3 cities had a number of legacy freight rail ROWs in public ownership, so it was a reasonable approach, but all 3 cities then mostly (but not entirely) failed to facilitate TOD around these new rail corridors to create the density needed to sustain good ridership, which is an inexcusable failure given all 3 are high growth and high cost metros.
yeah the green (C) line is the most notorious example of this, being completely in freeway medians did make it grade separated and fast, but also completely useless. Then they had the Red (B) line with the most promising corridor rerouted due to nimbys. Though thankfully the E line (to santa monica) was an old streetcar corridor so that has been pretty successful.
> then mostly (but not entirely) failed to facilitate TOD around these new rail corridors
They are now adding more TOD, though it is a bit late, in some cases like 30~40 years after the light rail station was built.
What Denver did is common in the United States. A big part of the problem is how cities have evolved since the depression. Running on old rail lines works well in Europe, especially as regional rail. But that is because those towns and small cities are still largely centered around the rail lines (even if they have freeways). We have some of that, but often cities run along the railroad lines for the same reason they run along the freeway: to save money.
But it also represents the idea that distance is essential. It is quite reasonable to build a small, compact rail system. These exist in other parts of the world (for example, Genoa). We could have built one that only went from the UW to downtown (with several stops along the way). Maybe it gets extended south, but along Rainier Avenue, where there are more people, and cut-and-cover would have been quite reasonable. Again, more stops. Ending at Rainier Beach would be quite reasonable. But if you want to connect to the suburbs, then keep going, and end at a freeway station (around BAR). Likewise, go a bit north, to Northgate and then 145th, to again connect to the suburbs. That means quite a bit of freeway work, but nothing too crazy. You end up with a far more compact and effective system. If you are willing to spend the money, then do it serving the core — address the areas that are hardest to serve, the ones in the city.
What is striking about most American systems is how poor they are in ridership per mile. Of the top ten, three are in Canada, and three are in the United States. The bottom 13 are all in the United States. Light rail is the same story. The top four in ridership per mile are outside the U. S., while the best ones in the country are old (Boston and San Fransisco). Seattle is actually an American outlier, as we have the best ridership per mile of any modern mass transit system in the United States. This will all go away soon. We will join the ranks of Denver, Dallas and a lot of other cities that have rail lines with very few riders on them for large stretches, while the core remains underserved.
Some of this is just the silly obsession with streetcars. We also built light rail where we should have built light metro (which makes the Google distinction misleading). But a lot of it is just quantity over quality. I get it. A lot of American cities sprawl. But the answer is not to have a (very expensive) rail system sprawl with them, it is to build rail in the core, and have good bus intercepts for the suburbs. For that matter, a lot of cities would probably be better off with just a really good bus system. If you can’t afford to extensively cover your core (because you sprawl too much) then you are likely better off with BRT and just better bus service.
To build upon Ross’s comment, I think also some of the issue is Denver’s RTD is a regional district that spans multiple counties. Denver isn’t “one city,” it’s a metro that spans many urban centers. In America, we fill in the gaps between town with low density SF subdivisions rather than rural uses like in Europe, but the impact on transit is about the same.
Viewed as a regional network, some projects like the A-line to the airport and the G to Arvada are very reasonable regional rail lines. The issue with Denver is the urban core transit network remains primarily provided by buses operating in mixed traffic. Like Seattle, Denver can complain about scarce resources spent on suburban P&R rail, but also just like Seattle, Denver has complete control of its street grid and local zoning and pointing to the region building a regional rail network is a red herring as to why the local, urban bus network is so mediocre.
Colfax BRT demonstrates this red herring well. It’s an excellent BRT corridor – linear wide ROW and consistently dense & active. The fact that Denver lacks the political capital to run a bus lane the entire length of the avenue has nothing to do with RTD’s rail projects or scarce funding.
The fact that Denver lacks the political capital to run a bus lane the entire length of the avenue has nothing to do with RTD’s rail projects or scarce funding.
I disagree. Just to back up here, the rail is a mixed bag. Sometimes you can run on existing track very cheaply. This means that even if the system isn’t ideal, it is at least really cheap. At worse it is commuter rail. If you are just paying to maintain and operate the trains, it will be fairly cheap. On the other hand, if you are renting the tracks, you need decent ridership. In our case, Sounder South is worth it, Sounder North is not.
The bigger problem is when you spend a lot of money on substandard alignment. This is common in the United States. Often this means following the freeway. This saves money, but unlike running on existing track, it is still pretty expensive. It routinely costs billions of dollars, yet doesn’t get the ridership to justify it. This can happen inside the city, but it is more common outside it. It is being penny wise, but pound foolish. It means spending quite a bit of money, but not improving transit that much.
As a result, public support for transit diminishes. It is important to remember that projects like DART are not sold as Sounder equivalents. They are not sold as “low hanging fruit”, but rather, “game changers”. If they don’t change the game — if they fail to attract that many riders because so few trips actually work (despite the fairly high cost) — it is hard to turn around and say “OK, now we have to do the important stuff, and fix the buses”.
It is why it is very important to build from the center out. Initially, this is bound to get opposition. There are class and race conflicts that can delay or kill a project that would have been considered common sense not too long ago. But if you can overcome the anti-urban bias, you will be better off in the long run. For example, imagine if Seattle itself built the first mass transit system in the area. It could be small, like U-District to downtown. It would have urban stop spacing much of the way, which means probably three stations in the U-District, along with a station at 23rd & Madison, Capitol Hill and First Hill. The stations add to the cost, and the thing isn’t cheap. But it also has very good ridership per mile. Overall, it is viewed as a “game changer” by everyone who rides it. Everyone, whether they are from the city or suburbs, talks about how nice it is. Thus there is pressure to get more out of it, to extend it either direction. Eventually you want a freeway intercept, so that the suburban riders can transfer to it. This is how many if not most mass transit systems evolve.
At that point, improving the buses becomes a lot easier. For example, ridership on the 48 soars, as riders use it to connect to the train. It becomes easier to push for making the bus faster, and more frequent. The same thing happens with the 44. But there is a slight difference. They want to make the 44 faster, and more frequent, but there is also talk about someday replacing it with an extension — a branch — of the main line going north. It is just much easier to be pro-transit when you can point out how successful your existing system is.
Just got back from spending a little time in Zagreb. Absoluelty wonderful city.
They have a tram system that is really impresssive.
19 lines, interlined in the denser areas to provide frequent service where needed without wasting service hours in the burbs. And they run double length trams to increase capacity per operator hour.
The trams work well in pedestrian areas, and also mix well with auto traffic where needed. Buses are almost completely absent from the city core, yielding a surprisingly pleasant urban experience.
The result? Ridership on their tram system is much higher than on Metro, even though Zagreb and Seattle are similar in population and in density. And their urban core is very livable and vibrant, whereas we get 3rd Ave with our wall of underperforming Metro buses.
I think we could learn a lot from the Zagreb tram system.
Move the CCC to 3rd Ave and use it as the core of an expanded streetcar system with multiple interlined lines. Kick all the cars off 3rd and move the buses to the burbs. Use Pentos where it makes sense.
It could be done.
Zagreb is wonderful but smaller than Seattle, more density across the city (b/c it’s an old European city) but less density in the urban core. I think Seattle is plenty big enough for good transit along 1st and 3rd.
Instead, my takeaway would be the value of overlapping & interlined service and the multiplier effect of good routes on ridership. So if you want an expanded streetcar system, rather than move to 3rd, I’d built it on 1st but then look to overlap several streetcar lines (e.g, QA to Stadium, Belltown to Judkins, etc.) along the CCC core. That would supplement, not compete with, the trolleybus trunk on 3rd.
Particularly for the ‘low performing routes’ you point out, building upon trolleybus technology with solid off-wire capabilities for routes that will run no better than 15 minute frequency midday/weekends is a far more scalable solution, given Seattle existing trolley wire infrastructure. Streetcars rather than trolleybuses make sense only in the most urban neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity of downtown.
Zagreb (city) is actually slightly larger than Seattle (city) at a 767k population vs about 735k for Seattle. So essentially identical.
I’d grant you that it is hard to compare densities, and that Zagreb probably has more even density, but the published urban density (how ever they compute it) for Zagreb is ~10k ppl/mile**2 as opposed to ~9k ppl/mile**2 for Seattle. So not a big difference.
What is different is the Metro population. Seattle’s Metro population is about 4 times LARGER than that of Zagreb.
So why does Zagreb’s 19 or so tram routes outperform Metro’s massive bus system? And outperform Metro so significantly?
Answering that question would probably take a lot of effort, but what is known for sure is that Zagreb’s tram system works wonderfully, and that Seattle could learn a lot from it.
As per an expanded streetcar system in Seattle, I fully agree that an expanded system of 4 or 5 urban focused routes that interline downtown should be the goal. And I agree with you that these should be just urban focused and not too long. This is essentially what Zagreb has done.
I would prefer that this system be focused on 3rd because it is the core of downtown and is where the DSA proposed transit mall would be. I’d simply convert that to streetcars and get about the business of saving 3rd Ave.
As per all those buses that use 3rd Ave now, I’d just get rid of them. Implement a hub-and-shuttle type system like so many other cities have already done successfully and get on with the business of saving downtown.
And if Greg Spotts wants to call me and pick my brain on this, I would gladly oblige.
I checked on density maps and Zagreb is denser than one would think using city boundaries. The following data is estimated using a combination of census and satellite so isn’t as accurate as just using census data but is a lot more granular than just going by city boundaries which vary in size and can include lots of dead space (if you include a giant park using city boundaries one can suddenly drop in density). Also one can consistently measure using 1 kilometer square blocks.
Most people (~500k) in Zagreb live in densities above 4k per square kilometer
Whereas for the Seattle metro area. While 1 million live in 1~2k density and another million in 2~4k density only 200k live in densities around 4k~8k per square kilometer.
The main reason Zagreb has extensive trams and Pugetopolis doesn’t is not density; it’s political attitudes toward transit. If we get >4K/km density, that doesn’t automatically mean we’d get a 19-line tram network. Lots of American cities have less transit than their density deserves, and especially less rail. Only New York City has a level of transit proportional to its density.
If the question is “why are there so many bus routes in downtown Seattle,” comparing municipal Seattle to municipal Zagreb is irrelevant. KCM has a large express bus network because it’s serving a metro that is twice the population of Zagreb. It’s that express bus network, highly successful globally (not just against American cities), that results in a large number of mediocre urban routes in downtown Seattle because a high preforming express route is still usually a mediocre urban route.
Zagreb has many more high density neighborhoods, and therefore many more streetcar lines. A route like the 7 is a great trolleybus route, but most of the Rainier Valley is suburban compared to Zagreb, which is why running a streetcar down to Rainier Beach is overkill …. Link through the RV is great, but would be total overkill if it ran at-grade through downtown and was therefore nothing more than a big streetcar.
As mentioned, the cities are very different. WL and AJ are basically saying the same thing. Zabreg is a dense, compact city. Seattle is not.
Seattle is also hour-glass shaped. Zagreb is not. As a result, Seattle lends itself to what we have: a spine through downtown. Even if we built a much better grid, we still have branches that converge. For example, consider the buses west of the Seattle Center. There are several buses serving Magnolia. Those converge with the buses that go over the Ballard Bridge, then the buses that came from the top of Queen Anne. All of those buses converge with those coming from Aurora and Westlake. It is just the natural shape of our city. A lot of it is the natural geography (how the glaciers scraped things from the north). It is extremely difficult to go east-west in most of the city, as you are constantly fighting hills. In some cases, there isn’t even a walking path, let alone a street.
If you build a subway, to a certain extent you can ignore all that. You can “go against the grain”, so to speak. This can have great benefit, as you can achieve travel times that are dramatically faster than anything else, even at noon. But trams don’t do that. Trams will follow the same pathway as the buses (at best).
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years about transit, it is this: It isn’t the mode, it is the network. OK, sure. The mode matters. But grade separation, avoiding traffic (i. e. speed) matters more. So does frequency. But overall, what is important, is the network. It is why Northgate Link is such a huge success. It isn’t that people now love taking the train downtown, but hated taking the bus there. Quite the contrary. Back in the day, when the buses ran through the tunnel, it was great. If anything, this is worse for that. But the big difference is the network. Now you can get to Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, or the UW much faster. So much faster that side trips from there become much better. Northgate to Wallingford is much better than it used to be because Northgate to the UW is so much faster.
It is why West Seattle rail is just not a great project. The improvement to the network is minimal. In contrast, the 130th project is fantastic (for the money). It completely changes that part of the city. Consider this trip, which I will take sometime soon: https://goo.gl/maps/z6sQBNfkTwCKUCjPA. That is with “less walking”. It is over an hour to take a trip that would take about ten minutes in a car. This is to a location served by one of our our most popular, frequent, and fastest buses. If I decide to take the “best route”, it still take 45 minutes, and involves over 20 minutes of walking. The problem isn’t the mode — it is the network. When the network changes (after the 130th Station is added) that trip (and a lot of similar ones) get a lot faster.
Same goes for the rest of the city. The problem isn’t the mode, it is the network. Part of the problem is as AJ mentioned — we have to spend a lot of money serving low density, distant areas (since so many people live there). But that is only part of the problem. The bus network is out of date. It assumes everyone is headed downtown, or that all transfers should occur there. Buses make an excessive amount of turns, wasting time. Routes are extremely close to other routes, reducing the chance for good combined headways. All of this is wasteful. All of this makes for a less efficient system.
We see this all over the city, but perhaps the best example is in the area that has the potential for the greatest ridership — the greater Central District (basically everything east of downtown, in the city itself). The 49, coming from the U-District (now served by Link) runs by the Link Station and the 10, which serves Pike/Pine. It continues on Broadway. A couple blocks later, it too heads downtown (despite giving riders many alternatives to get there). But that isn’t the only vehicle on Broadway. You also have the 60, which turns on Madison, then again on 9th before regaining its bearings, and continuing south on the main corridor. Then there is the streetcar. It goes down Broadway, only to make a nonsensical button-hook, and again head downtown, instead of the main direction it was heading. That is three frequent vehicles, all going down the same corridor, that all fail to complement each other in destination or frequency. It is like an anti-spine. Imagine someone at Swedish Cherry Hill trying to get up to Broadway and Roy: https://goo.gl/maps/5eBgc4GVeqvvME6a6. Keep in mind, this is bus stop to bus stop. This is within the most urban part of the entire region. The trip involves one of our most popular and frequent buses (the 3/4). The obvious route is to take that bus, then transfer to a frequent bus running along Broadway. But the network is so screwed up, it is telling me to go downtown, and come all the way back. In fact, it is saying the best bet may be to just walk … for 37 minutes! Again, this is in the heart of the city. This has the density that we with the rest of the city had.
The problem isn’t the mode, it is the network. We don’t need trams, we need to change the bus routes (and make them faster).
My experience is that Google is somewhat conservative with walk times, so if they say it’s 37 minutes, it’s actually more like 30 if you walk fast, and jogging part of the way could probably cut it to 20. If it were me making that trip, I would definitely just walk.
“ It’s that express bus network, highly successful globally (not just against American cities), that results in a large number of mediocre urban routes in downtown Seattle”
Metro’s express buses do carry a fair number of people, but they are most certainly not that successful financially. Subsidies on routes like these are among the highest in the system.
But other municipalities have faced the same issue with their bus systems and have been more successful in dealing with it.
How? Often it is via a hub and shuttle type model. Basically intercept these routes on the periphery of your transit mall and force a transfer to a shuttle that then runs closer to full and is easier to tailor to spot demand. The result is a better system in the transit mall that doesn’t overwhelm the built environment with a wall of nearly empty buses.
Ya, after decades of Metro provided bus-to-bus transfers nobody wants to force another transfer, but if done right, it can work very well. And here the proposal would be to transfer not to a bus but to to streetcar, which provides rider quality and capacity advantages over transferring to yet another bus.
It can be done. Other cities have done it. Seattle can too.
The area around Westlake station has very limited space for bus layover. Even if you wanted to go the shuttle route, you couldn’t actually do it without making buses deadhead to the south end of downtown anyway.
Then, there’s one seat ride through downtown, like from Queen Anne to First Hill on the 3. Do you force people to transfer twice to go a mile and a half right in the center of the city? That seems very excessive.
And that’s not even getting into the cost of actually building the streetcar.
At best, this seems like a very expensive 3rd Ave. beautification proposal aimed at benefiting wealthy property owners at the expense of transit riders.
I’m with asdf2. The ETB network depends on Third Avenue for its passage through the downtown core. That would be a LOT of overhead to move to another street, and there’s no other two way street east of First Avenue. So the ETB’s must stay on Third. What happens to the RapidRide core is another thing. It’s great to centralize transfers on one street, but it may be just too much bus activity.
100% agree on getting rid of the buses on 3rd. The bus corridor is a failure and has essentially done the same thing to Seattle as I-5, by cutting the already narrow downtown in half. Also all these insanely long bus routes that span from the north end to the south end of the city via 3rd create unnecessary delays for many routes.
The streetcar is not a bad idea for certain routes, especially from Climate Pledge to Pike Place and CID along 1st Ave. Belltown is dense and needs better transit. The current CCC route is dumb though. We need more alternative transit modes coming out from Seattle Center and Climate Pledge. This will be even more pressing once the Sonics return to Seattle. WSBLE won’t happen until 2040, which is so far out as to be irrelevant. But we can build a 1st Ave streetcar from Climate Pledge through Belltown now.
What? It’s no harder to cross 3rd than any other downtown avenue. The buses move robustly, and I wouldn’t call them oppressive. There’s a problem with street dealers and drug addicts but that’s not related to the buses.
Ideally I’d prefer trams, but we’ve invested so much in roads and have limited transit resources, so I’d rather focus on enhancing the buses. We have Link as a fast bypass to northeast Seattle, southeast Seattle, and beyond. SDOT/Metro intended a dozen RapidRide lines on 3rd to make it more of a transit mall, but that got reduced by overoptimistic Move Seattle estimates and the covid recession. We could still implement it someday. Robust buses can go as fast as robust trams.
The biggest thing people want from transit is to go from point A to point B quickly, with frequent runs so they don’t have to wait, and conveniently. (And Daniel would add safely.) Trams have no advantage over RapidRide for that. And we have fast Link for those who don’t want surface-level speed.
For whatever that’s worth, when I was working near the CID years ago, and had to go somewhere downtown, I always favored the 2nd/4th Ave buses over the 3rd Ave ones when riding surface streets instead of using the buses in the tunnel or Link, simply because the likelihood of having to listen to someone rant at themselves the whole ten minutes was lower. It has nothing to do with the wall of buses on 3rd, and everything to do with unhoused mental illness. Fix that and my concern, at least, would go away.
Third Avenue was a great success.
The willingness of Seattle to provide bus priority on 3rd Avenue and the operational changes devised by Metro (e.g., skip stop operation on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th avenues, focusing routes on common pathways to serve common markets, reducing waits) have allowed the area to survive the poor strategic choice of Sound Transit (1999-2001) to build Link south-first rather than north-first. The ST board has had a focus on the spine from the beginning. In 1999, when it was learned that the North King County subarea could not afford the much higher cost of Sound Move Link to NE 45th Street. The board rejected a proposal from Mayor Schell and Executive Sims to build north-first. Two years later, they opted to build the initial segment, south first. It opened in 2009. Seattle provided more priority to bus transit in downtown. North-first would have attracted higher ridership sooner; it served a string of dense urban centers with strong two-way all-day demand for transit in which surface transit was slow; it addressed the I-5 reversible lane issue; reverse peak direction bus trips were stuck in congestion on the general purpose lanes. (2019 was a bad year for transit; WSDOT closed the SR-99 AWV and had yet to open the deep bore; ST had taken the D-2 roadway for Link; the county sold CPS to the WSCC ending bus operation in the DSTT prematurely; Seattle held 1st Avenue for the CCC Streetcar; the transit agencies were slow to restructure routes for Link and South Sounder, so too many buses were on the surface).
Streetcars make sense where priority can be provided and when demand is sufficient to couple multiple cars together; that uses one operator to move many riders. The Seattle streetcars are only short, slow, costly local circulators. It costs many millions to build streetcar lines. The same priority through traffic can be provided to buses. We have to consider a cost constraint and the opportunity cost of projects.
One could also look at Swiss, Austrian, and German cities that have used electric trolleybuses intensively.
Now, Seattle has tremendous transportation needs; an investment in streetcars is not worthwhile. Needs include pavement management, sidewalks, bridge maintenance, RR capital; Seattle has already made too many streetcar mistakes.
Today, ST may be learning it cannot afford the higher than expected cost of ST3 DSTT2. The current mayor and executive have decided we cannot afford the second station in the CID.
And I prefer 3rd or the tunnel because 2nd and 4th are car-oriented streets with the suburban express buses, and few walk-up destinations except offices. When I was growing up in Bellevue, the ancestors of the 550 and B were on 2nd and 4th Avenues so I wanted for them there, and now the 550 is again. But as soon as I was old enough to understand that 3rd is more of a pedestrian area and not a car sewer, and the 3rd Avenue Seattle routes go to more of the areas I want to go, I prefer 3rd. And now I use 3rd almost completely except when going to Bellevue or Federal Way or Issaquah or Tacoma.
“we’ve invested so much in roads and have limited transit resources, so I’d rather focus on enhancing the buses”
What you suggest could be described as “doubling down on failure”.
It’s well known that Metro on 3rd Ave is vastly underperforming our peer cities on just about every metric of importance. We carry much fewer passengers on way more buses and at way higher cost. And the amount of pavement that needs to be given over to this system has basically killed 3rd Ave, not to mention that a wall of buses isn’t exactly very enticing for the pedestrian environment.
Doubling down on this system by adding even more buses is not the answer.
Joining our 2 existing streetcar lines together using the CCC was expected to yield a single line that had a ridership level roughly equal to the two highest ridership RR lines combined. This could be viewed as an indication of the power of streetcar over buses, or it could be viewed as an indictment of our current RR lines.
Putting the CCC on 3rd along with a couple of other lines would allow for the complete transformation of 3rd. 3rd Ave buses should be fully removed from DT to complete the rehabilitation.
Lazarus what are your peer cities? Seattle’s bus network generally out performs other US cities, can you point to pre-COVID data that says the 3rd Ave busway is comparatively unproductive?
Disagree with pretty much everything SLUer said. I agree with Mike – comparing a regular 5-lane urban street to I5 is ridiculous. 3rd Ave is completely unremarkable as a downtown arterial to any other major American city. And I don’t see the urgency for the Seattle Center – the monorail plus some bus lanes is sufficient for a major event. A streetcar is for all day demand, not peak event traffic; KCM can have a dozen buses idling on a side street until the event ends to handle the brief surge in ridership, but it won’t have a fleet of streetcars sitting idle.
> Joining our 2 existing streetcar lines together using the CCC was expected to yield a single line that had a ridership level roughly equal to the two highest ridership RR lines combined. This could be viewed as an indication of the power of streetcar over buses, or it could be viewed as an indictment of our current RR lines….
> Putting the CCC on 3rd along with a couple of other lines would allow for the complete transformation of 3rd.
It’s just overly rosy ridership projections from running it through the densest areas. If there was actually that many potential riders I would imagine to see a lot more on the 40/70/C Line that already goes from 3rd avenue to South Lake Union. The streetcar isn’t magically faster than the busses (without transit lanes). I also don’t see anyone from Capitol Hill or First Hill really using the streetcar to reach downtown as one can use the Link or 3/4/12 bus which are more direct.
I agree with Lazarus again. Standing on 3rd Ave all I see is largely empty buses after another empty bus at insanely high frequencies. I know many people who avoid taking Metro because nearly all the transfers around downtown require getting off at 3rd Ave and no one with kids want to get off on 3rd and wait for another bus on 3rd if they have a choice. It’s a completely hostile environment aside from the junkies loitering around. It feels like walking off into a truck stop because that’s basically what it is except with endless massive buses. Do the people who support the 3rd Ave bus corridor actually even take it or do they just obsess with efficiencies on paper and get off at the high frequency of the bus service on the corridor? If this is described as a success of public transit, you all need to reassess your parameters.
That was the original intention back in 2008 https://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Streetcar-Combined-Lines-ma-344×450.gif when streetcars were in vogue.
Generally though modern streetcars have failed across America, the very high construction cost makes it hard to build any decent length route. DC, Atlanta, Kansas City, etc.. have all implemented streetcars at high cost for low ridership and typically there’s even a bus running alongside them with higher ridership.
Part of the problem is also the term streetcar just makes people want to run them at lower speeds and add stations every 2~3 blocks when really you’d want to run them more like ‘light rail’/rapidrides with farther station spacing. As an example the ‘rapid streetcar’ alternative https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/C-01d_DowntownSeattletoBallard_Westlake_atgrade_FTemp.pdf would potentially have half the stations as the existing streetcar on westlake
(sorry for separate comment didn’t see it til after I posted)
> I agree with Lazarus again. Standing on 3rd Ave all I see is largely empty buses after another empty bus at insanely high frequencies. I know many people who avoid taking Metro because nearly all the transfers around downtown require getting off at 3rd Ave and no one with kids want to get off on 3rd and wait for another bus on 3rd if they have a choice.
I agree that 3rd Avenue definitely needs reform, but I don’t see how running a streetcar down 3rd avenue and terminating all the busses before or after it (or however you are getting the busses to downtown) fixes the issues.
Larger fixes I’d ask for are much more apartments downtown than just offices, but that will take quite a while.
Reading https://www.kuow.org/stories/seattle-wants-to-revitalize-third-avenue-what-will-it-take about “And part of the issue on Third Avenue is unopen storefronts. That’s all private property” I wonder if allowing food street carts on third avenue would help it? lol
100% agree on getting rid of the buses on 3rd.
Sometimes I wonder if you are trolling. At least when Sam does it, it is obvious, and amusing. This is just nonsensical.
The bus corridor is a failure and has essentially done the same thing to Seattle as I-5, by cutting the already narrow downtown in half.
That is a ludicrous comparison. I-5 prevents pedestrian egress. You aren’t allowed to walk along side it, and very rarely can you walk perpendicular to it. When you can, you are often walking under it — in the shadows — places so inhospitable to life that it inhabited by only those shunned by society. At best it is a parking lot — normally the worst aspect of a city. To build I-5 they tore out existing buildings — ripping Chinatown and other downtown communities to pieces.
In contrast, the Third Avenue transit mall had none of that. They simply replaced the cars with buses. Since many of the cars are trolleys, it is actually *more* pleasant for pedestrians. Unlike I-5, the buses serve everyone. You can easily get from one side of downtown to the other by just hopping on and hopping off. Headways are usually seconds, not minutes.
Also all these insanely long bus routes that span from the north end to the south end of the city via 3rd create unnecessary delays for many routes.
Buses through-route to save money. It also reduces the need to find layover space downtown. You can’t get break up routes like that without reducing service. Sometimes that is reasonable, but as a blanket approach it is terrible.
The whole thing is absurd. Get rid of buses on 3rd — and then what? Move them to 2nd? What would that accomplish? Seriously, what would you do with the buses?
“And the amount of pavement that needs to be given over to this system has basically killed 3rd Ave,”
There’s no evidence the buses caused street dealers, tweakers, homeless concentrations, or boarded-up shops. The reality is the department stores, buses, street dealers, and the Downtown Seattle Association are all there for the same reason: 3rd & Pine is a natural crossroads and where most of the customers are. It’s the most pedestrian part of downtown Seattle after Pike Place Market. Many American cities don’t have this level of good pedestrian activity (excluding the bad pedestrian activity) or bus ridership, so it’s successful in that way. The negative things need to be targeted directly, and not scapegoat the buses. Eliminating the buses or all transit won’t make the street dealers or tweakers or homeless go away.
“not to mention that a wall of buses isn’t exactly very enticing for the pedestrian environment.”
Why not? If there weren’t a wall of buses, there would be a wall of cars, like on 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Avenues. If Pugetopolis weren’t so car-oriented, there would be a lot more buses on more downtown streets, just to move everybody.
Many of the factors that make transit feasible or convenient or aesthetic, overlap between buses and trains. Both can do them. That includes for the functions currently provided by 3rd Avenue buses.
SDOT’s/Metro’s vision is for more RapidRide lines on 3rd. That and extending Link will result in fewer total buses downtown. The DSA has proposed converting one or two lanes to pedestrian uses, and that is at least somewhat likely. So you just have to wait, and get over your anti-bus attitude.
Ideally I’d like to see most Seattle core bus routes replaced by good tram lines. But that’s not practical, cost-effective, or necessary now. We just need to add more transit-priority lanes and increase off-peak frequency.
I think we are talking the same language. I totally agree that the problem on Third is the surface transit environment.
Third has become a very unpleasant place to be: too little space for pedestrians, too much concrete given over to a wall of buses, too much diesel engine noise and pollution. And Metro’s attempt to speed things up by doing skip stop just adds another level of chaos to an already chaotic scene. It is very unpleasant.
My concept would be to essentially implement a hub and shuttle type system to remove these buses from Third, but to use the CCC instead of buses as the basis of the “shuttle” part of the hub and shuttle.
The completed streetcar system would serve this role very nicely and allow for the implementation of a full pedestrian/transit mall on Third. And the better rider experience and higher capacity of streetcar would help overcome the normal reluctance of people to do bus-to-bus transfers.
It would work.
And I do agree with you that an added streetcar line going straight up Third to Seattle Center and Climate Pledge also makes sense. How much of Third outside of the main transit mall could also be streetcar only would be subject to detailed study.
Yogi Berra once said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
“There are so many buses on 3rd Ave, it’s a bad place to wait for buses,” sounds like something he would say.
I’d take that old Westlake – Fremont – Ballard streetcar concept and make it a Westlake – Fremont – Zoo/Woodland Park via Fremont Ave N route (Leave the 40 bus alone). Then have a great interchange/terminal at Woodland Park for a well-designed connection with the RR E near the zoo. I’ve felt this is really the only decent streetcar concept, the rest are totally duplicative with existing bus routes. This duplicates the key Fremont-Downtown trunk where duplication does make sense and could be an opportunity to make a shared exclusive transitway for shared streetcar/#40 bus use-only on Westlake while having the streetcar operate on its own on Fremont Ave N to Woodland Park (the 5 just clips the northern end going via Aurora Bridge). The connection with the E is a big part of this concept.
It is very common for people to go to Europe, and then come back and and say things like this. “It is amazing, they have trams! What a wonderful city. We should have trams!”. I am surprised that someone like Lazarus, who has been following transit for this long, can repeat such a silly idea.
Look, trams have their purpose, but as transit experts have put it, they are a niche tool. They basically make sense when:
1) You can leverage existing rail lines or
2) You need the capacity (and don’t want to build a subway).
That’s it. There is nothing magical about them. The things you find attractive about them in Zagreb have far more to do with the makeup of Zagreb than the trams themselves. Put it this way: replace the trams of Zagreb with buses, and other than crowding, you wouldn’t notice much difference. They have steel wheels instead of tires. Big deal. Same route, same electrification, most people wouldn’t notice. Likewise, do the opposite. Take any city in America and replace the buses with trams. Again, no real difference. Maybe you wonder why the driver doesn’t just go around that tiny obstacle, but otherwise, it is exactly the same.
In contrast, consider the 99 B-Line in Vancouver. It carries 56,000 riders a day over less than 9 miles. Ridership and ridership-per-mile is huge, exceeding many rail systems in the United States. The buses are crowded, and thus should definitely be replaced by rail. A tram would work. However, a subway line (which they are building) will be better. That is why streetcars are a niche market. If you don’t have big ridership, you might as well keep the buses. If you have big ridership, then usually it makes sense to spend the money on a real subway system.
We have no corridors in Seattle where a tram is justified. The closest is probably where the 7 runs. But even with the various improvements, it won’t be so crowded that the buses can’t handle the load. Same with the 70 (they considered a streetcar, but rejected it). We actually have to push to get good headways (the opposite problem with the 99 B-Line). In other words, the buses aren’t that crowded — not to the point where we want to run them less often.
Partly it is because we are so spread out in this city. The idea that we are similar to Zagreb is absurd. Zagreb is a relatively small, compact city. Most European cities are compact. We are not. In Zagreb, most of the residents live in relatively dense areas (in the 4k-6k) range*. About half that number live in the 2k-4k range, with very few living in lower density areas. In contrast, Seattle is a sprawling city. We have over a million in that 2k-4k range, and more below it.
You can also just see this from a satellite view of either city. One of the first thing you notice is that Zagreb is so much more compact. You get to farmland or mountains very quickly. If you zoom into street level it is clear this is no small town — there is density even relatively far from the center of town: https://goo.gl/maps/JKhRZcuTMJWbjdGK8. We have that too. The closest analogy is probably Ballard. The difference is that Ballard is nowhere near farmland. Go north from Ballard (away from the city center) and you have miles and miles of development. This is the biggest difference between European cities and (most) American ones. It is why it is so much easier for them to serve with transit. High density areas are always cost effective to serve. Buses, trams, subways — even if you really screw it up, (like say, San Fransisco) you still up with a ton of riders. Really low density areas (i. e. farmland) are the opposite. You end up with hourly service (if that) connecting those people to the main city. But not that many people are hurt by that, as not that many people live there. They are often clustered around the main highway anyway, where it is relatively easy to serve them (everyone is “on the way”). For example, the same bus that serves distant, low density Darrington also serves Oso and Arlington. The problem is not serving these two extremes, it is serving the places in between. Areas that aren’t very dense, but just dense enough — if spread out over a huge area — to add up to lots of people. Unfortunately, that is where most of American lives. It is one of the reasons are transit systems are so poor.
Way too many people live a long ways away from the city, in low density areas. To serve them all by rail would be absurd. You want to run trams throughout all of Magnolia? Run trams up Aurora, and then branching off to serve Phinney Ridge? You want to get rid of the 101 and run trams down to Renton? It is just a silly idea.
Oh, and Zagreb has an extensive bus system: https://www.zet.hr/bus-lines/daytime-lines-593/593.
* people per square kilometer. You can look up the numbers here: http://luminocity3d.org/WorldPopDen/#9/47.0898/-121.2616
Exactly! Streetcar is a niche technology, and applying it everywhere would be the wrong approach.
But putting the CCC on 3rd meets exactly the 2 criterion you lay out!
1). It leverages existing rail lines by connecting the existing SLU and FH SC’s. And,
2) It provides capacity where it’s needed. Not so much to replace a subway (SC can’t replace a subway), but in this case to replace the current wall of buses with fewer, more environmentally friendly, and less intrusive streetcars..
Yes, I’d propose small additions to the existing system, but still focused just on the central urban core. This is supported by the density data you presented which actually shows that Seattle actually has the same, or higher, density in the urban center than does Zagreb. Thanks for that supporting data, it makes the case for streetcars stronger.
As per buses in Zagreb, I never said they didn’t exist. They obviously do. But they are mainly relegated to a supporting role. They are used mainly in the lower density, suburban areas where the expense of streetcar isn’t warranted. But, for the most part, they don’t enter the city center at all. While in the city center near the pedestrian areas, it is essentially 100% trams, and it is very pleasant.
And, yes, the wife and I like to travel. I like the cities as I find it refreshing to see what other cities have done to solve similar problems as to those facing Seattle now.
Sometimes it is easier to learn from the successes and failures of other cities than it is to reinvent the wheel over and over again. I’d say Zagreb has been highly successful (Ljubljana not so much). There are lessons Seattle can learn from that.
> Put it this way: replace the trams of Zagreb with buses, and other than crowding, you wouldn’t notice much difference. They have steel wheels instead of tires. Big deal.
You might not notice, but I very likely would. Trams/streetcars feel notably more comfortable to me than buses do. The perspective you present here appears to be that of a transit planner, not a transit user; you can talk all you want about how trams don’t make sense, but I would still prefer to ride a streetcar than a bus any day, and I will vote accordingly whenever it comes up.
But putting the CCC on 3rd meets exactly the 2 criterion you lay out!
1). It leverages existing rail lines by connecting the existing SLU and FH SC’s. And,
2) It provides capacity where it’s needed. Not so much to replace a subway (SC can’t replace a subway), but in this case to replace the current wall of buses with fewer, more environmentally friendly, and less intrusive streetcars..
I think you are confused. When I (and Jarrett Walker) wrote about leveraging existing railways, we weren’t referring to an extension. We were referring to unused rail lines already on the street. Basically tracks they never pulled up. The best example of this locally is along the waterfront. It is probably the only place a streetcar makes sense. Not only for that reason, but as a tourist thing.
In contrast, there are no tracks on Third Avenue.
2) No, this doesn’t increase capacity. It would actually reduce it. The buses on Third Avenue form a spine. There are two lanes of buses going each way. So while a train can carry more riders, the full capacity of two buses (leap-frogging each other) is actually higher. [Note: BRT advocates will often point to BRT as having similar or better capacity than rail, while forgetting to note that the BRT with such high capacity has two lanes. Do the same thing with rail (have two lines going the same direction) and capacity increases beyond BRT. ]
Anyway, I think I may have lost you, so let’s just back up here. With a bus like the one I mentioned in Vancouver, it really isn’t about capacity, per se, it is about savings. The bus has to run quite often to deal with crowding. So much so that riders don’t benefit much from the increased frequency, and yet the agency has to pay a lot extra (to drivers).
Now consider what you are proposing. The buses come into downtown, but then what? They end at one end? Where? It isn’t like there is a ton of places to layover. Are you proposing a giant bus depot on each end?
Then what? Every rider gets off the bus, and transfers to the streetcar. To deal with the massive number of people on the bus, the streetcars run often. You’ve made the trip much worse for riders, and you haven’t saved much (if any) money.
In essence, the current system gets high capacity and great headways along Third for free. Some buses through-route. This saves money. The bus riders from the south don’t want to transfer to get to the north end of downtown. Thus the bus was headed that way anyway. Riders on Third simply take advantage of that. They get great headways along the route for free. That is the nature of a spine. A spine is very different than a single route.
Look, I get it. You hate buses. But not everyone agrees with you. Streetcar ridership has been very disappointing because at the end of the day, people don’t really care whether it is a bus or train taking them to where they want to go. They certainly don’t want to be forced to make a transfer to complete the last half mile of their journey.
Thanks for catching that. I had completely missed it.
Such statements are clearly nonsensical. The difference would be immediately apparent to even the most casual of observers.
You could hear it, feel it, and smell it. Zagreb just couldn’t replace the capacity of their tram system with buses without completely degrading the urban environment they seek to protect.
People on this blog tend to deride “rail bias” as if it is something irrational. It isn’t. Rail provides a smoother, quieter, and higher capacity ride while often reducing travel times and blending into the urban environment better.
“Rail bias” is in fact totally rational. It is the equivalent of the old adage, “quality sells”.
The only problem I have with rail bias is when rail’s benefits are exaggerated, like a snake oil salesman who promises backwater townsfolk his elixir cure-all for all manner of ailments. I remember when streetcar fans promised the FHSC would transform the Jackson St corridor. How did that work out?
“I remember when streetcar fans promised the FHSC would transform the Jackson St corridor.”
That wasn’t us, or anybody that understands what kind of transit is transformative. It was people who don’t understand transit demanding a streetcar, and the politicians ignoring our warnings, and the result was predictable.
If you want European-like trams on Jackson Street and Broadway that actually improve transit, you need to give them transit lanes so they can run faster than traffic. You’d make them longer so they’d actually have more capacity. You wouldn’t install a two-way bike lane at the same time that precludes a streetcar lane. You’d find some way to avoid that button-hole on 14th, or you’d realize that the hill is a good reason not to have a tram there.
I think that the biggest constraint in Downtown Seattle are the steep slopes. Many streets and bus routes are just too steep for a streetcar. That’s why we used to have cable cars and why Metro has trolley buses.
I think the DSA Third Ave obsession is about street environment and not the buses.
I also think that when our rail lines extend further and that the new branches are added that Metro will reduce the number of routes and buses going through Downtown. However, several bus routes will need to continue running through Downtown — and their paths are steep so that they can’t be replaced with streetcars.
I do think that revisiting Third Ave as a possible solution for the DSTT theoretical capacity problem is however very strategic. The often stated assumption that we “need” DSTT2 for capacity is an institutionalized lie. Even here I seem occasional commenters declare this to be fact — usually without showing any math as to why it’s fact. We are just supposed to blindly believe them or ST.
The thing that never gets talked about is how many Downtown transit trips are occurring at short distances and what proportion of those are expected to use Link. I suspect that their models don’t adequately account for the time penalty to get so deep underground and it’s throwing these people into Link when the reality is that the riders would prefer a surface solution. My read of the diagrams show a surge of peak riders at University that ends at CID. These are likely either Sounder trips or they are very short local trips doing this surge (and of course the new station scheme doesn’t serve at all).
Finally, the use of battery or electric buses means that buses are cleaner and quieter. I think that non-transit people forget that — and have the image of a smelly and loud diesel bus in mind.
The DSA 3rd Avenue vision dates from 2019; there were issues of over crowding that year. The issues of 2023 are quite different; they include societal issues of homelessness, open drug use, crime; they are not caused by transit. They should not be conflated. We have problems to solve and should be smart with limited right of way and funds.
In 2019, the county had sold CPS to the WSCC and bus operation in the DSTT closed prematurely; that was 40 trips per hour per direction in the peaks. WSDOT had closed the SR-99 AWV but had not yet opened the deep bore; south end bus routes were on 1st Avenue South. Seattle kept 1st Avenue for the Beckian CCC Streetcar. ST had slowed I-90 bus routes with East Link construction. ST and Metro were cautious about restructuring. So, too many bus routes were trying to use limited downtown street capacity. Metro added Route 41 to 3rd Avenue; it was swamped. Transit ridership fell significantly in 2019 from 2018.
In 2023, network changes can easily address the issues. Due to reduced office work, most or all of the one-way peak-only routes can be suspended or deleted. Third Avenue needs some capital (e.g., working escalators, better lighting, real time schedule information). But it does not need the DSA capital intensive vision. Transit riders are better off on two-way arterials. With ST2 Link, very few suburban routes will be needed.
Can the DSTT station boxes under 3rd Avenue bear the weight of the DSA suggested capital projects?
It depends on whose vision of 3rd Ave. we are talking about. If it is the DSA’s vision I think the loss of the peak commuter and “choice” rider on buses along 3rd will pretty much doom that retail–vibrant vision.
3rd was better when buses could use the transit tunnel. As Seattle deteriorated it deteriorated the most on 3rd, but most of us who worked downtown figured 3rd was the Ave. the city decided to sacrifice, both for transit and for the unsavory element, although that was probably unfair to transit riders. I worked next to 3rd and Yesler and saw it every day. Eventually they had to close the courthouse.
I would think moving eastside riders onto East Link and into DSTT1 would help reduce the number of buses on 3rd but it won’t increase the ratio of normal “eyes on the street” compared to the current street residents. I think the DSA’s vision is pie in the sky, and the statement around it was so politically correct you could tell the vision would never address the real issues. Denial more than anything will doom the DSA’s vision for 3rd Ave.
No entire city can be a pedestrian retail vibrant place. Some avenues like 2nd and 4th are needed for car traffic. Some like 3rd for transit. As I noted about the eastside, even downtown Seattle can support only so much retail to create dense, vibrant, walkable retail, so you have to condense it. It doesn’t help when the zoning encourages so much of the retail to disperse throughout the entire city.
So start where this retail is possible. That is from the Convention Center to Pike Place Market. For decades that has been the vision, not 3rd. Remove cars and buses if necessary, flood it with police, figure out parking along the perimeter, and when that area is safe, vibrant, packed then worry about lost causes like 3rd.
If the DSA and city can’t revitalize a major corridor from a major Convention Center to Westlake to Pike Place Market to Puget Sound and the waterfront park it certainly cannot revitalize 3rd Ave. I just don’t think Seattle has the will to revitalize either, but at least with the right political leadership there is hope from the Convention Center to Pike Place Market (although I know it makes some on this blog very angry when I suggest Seattle has any problems).
“3rd was better when buses could use the transit tunnel.”
There were a half dozen routes in the tunnel after U-Link in 2016, vs some fifty routes on 3rd. Almost all the tunnel routes went to 2nd and 4th; I think the 41 was the only one on 3rd. None of the former tunnel routes are on 3rd now. So the tunnel was a drop in the bucket compared to 3rd Avenue buses.
I like 3rd Avenue buses better now with the 24 hour transit lanes; they don’t get bogged down in congestion like they used to. What I don’t like is waiting for the H,27,124,131,132 at 3rd & Pike. But not because of the buses; because of the sidewalk conditions.
President Biden has quietly declared the national COVID emergency as over. The practical effects are you have a few days to stock up on free home tests and get your last free vaccination. For government agency budgets, the symptoms could be more severe. I’m thinking there isn’t much of an exit strategy.
XBB.1.16 is just making beachheads in the US. We seem to pull the rug out from under health protections every time the political body known as the CDCP gets worried that the virus might be headed for extinction. I’ll admit that after a month of stagnation on the case and death counts, the numbers have come down the past week (though not as much as a novice reading of the immature data might indicate).
I don’t see this as a time to celebrate yet, but a sign of hope that the CDCP is losing its battle to keep COVID around as a foreverdemic. After all, more and more of the population is slowly learning (in spite of the CDCP) that masks do work against respiratory viruses, and failure to wear one at an indoor social engagement is how all their friends got COVID. (Being on the train for a long period counts, but at least the trains have good air filtration and circulation, and wearing a mask that long is really easy.) We Americans may be slow learners, but we do learn.
If you are tired of hearing from people complaining about the threat of COVID, you can do your part to help bring the numbers down quickly. Don’t get it (or don’t get it again). Don’t spread it. Wear a mask if you are going to be around others (outside your household) for a significant amount of time. But if someone in your household goes to something like a sportsball event or concert, there is a nontrivial chance they could be bringing COVID home as a souvenir. You may be stuck masking up at home for a few days because they refused to mask up for a couple hours.
Long COVID is still worth not catching.
And the immunocompromised population has waited enough years for this pandumbic to end so that they can get out and enjoy life. End it. Don’t extend it. (the virus, not the public health protections)
Long Covid is basically a psychosocial diagnosis
“In the past year, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have all pulled back on leasing or construction plans in the Seattle area.
“Southport’s troubles come as the larger Seattle-area office market deals with a pullback and layoffs by tech firms and continued uncertainty around remote work, which has left many employers hesitant about committing to high-end office space.
“At the same time, rising office vacancies and soaring interest rates are making lenders hesitant about financing new office construction or refinancing existing building loans that are expiring or rolling over.
“Some buildings that were purchased in 2018, 2019, 2020 are just not going to pencil anymore,” said Connor McClain, senior vice president and leasing expert at Colliers who is not involved with Southport.
“Some assets are ultimately going to be given back to the lender,” McClain said. “It’s inevitable.”
“Christ and SECO did not respond to several email and phone queries about the auction, which doesn’t appear to affect other SECO projects in the $598 million mixed-use development, including a Hyatt Hotel and convention facility and a 383-unit apartment complex that sold for $191 million in 2021.
“Brokers said they were confident Southport will bounce back, but will need to wait for a broader market recovery and especially a resolution of the remote work/in-person debate.
“Many Seattle area brokers are banking on moves by major tech firms such as Amazon, which is requiring employees to be back in-office three days a week starting May 1, to help push the office market back into normal.
“Other think it may take longer.
“Matt Dennison, an independent tech worker who often uses the spacious Hyatt lobby as his remote office, says he’s long been a fan of the Southport project and is optimistic it will eventually fill up. “It’s brilliant,” he said of the mixed-use concept.”
My guess is this suggests construction along East Link from East Main to Redmond Town Center is unlikely for some time due to higher interest rates, WFH, and because banks are no longer lending for commercial development. Zoning is not construction. Southport was financed during a time of low interest rates and investors hungry for yield and REIT’s bursting with cash they had to invest under the terms of their REIT, which is why a lot of poor public and private developments got financing.
Whether WFH changes or not, interest rates and banks not lending on commercial projects will stall any new office construction. My opinion is the Dept. of Commerce was corrupted with Inslee’s political appointments and its future population growth estimates that underly the 2050 PSRC Vision Statement, upzoning bills, TOD plans, Link, and so much development will turn out to be political and inflated.
From the ordinary office worker’s view this is good. WFH allows them to avoid a commute to an urban office on transit because parking is too expensive when that time is not compensated and often extends an 8-hour day away from the kids and family into a 10-hour day. It can also benefit a company if their office space and costs go down. It won’t be good for trades workers, and I have heard anecdotally many have left for states with more construction, especially FL and TX. It will have an impact on Link’s O&M budgets due to a triple whammy: 1. underestimated future O&M costs; 2. lower ridership; 3. lower fare paying percentages. This certainly won’t get better with Link moving into the suburban areas that were based on office workers commuting to Seattle and Bellevue.
Tax wise the biggest impact will be a reduction in tax revenue from new commercial development, which is a bigger tax revenue source for cities like Bellevue and Seattle than most understand, and the reallocation of that tax among cities due to WFH (sales tax is allocated at the source), and just within some cities as declining property tax revenue from commercial office properties has to be switched to other properties to equal the city’s levy that stays the same each year plus 1% annual increases.
2022 was supposed to be the “new normal” for WFH and people’s new habits post pandemic, and 2023 is supposed to be the year the financial ramifications become known, although the writing is pretty much on the wall. Investors defaulted on Southport because the $288 million in outstanding loans was worth well less than the building, and my guess is the foreclosure will be lucky to get $175 million. Ouch.
I keep seeing posts you’ve made making the claim that 2022 was supposed to be the new normal. It’s far from that. I follow economic trends, permitting and development through the region and there are no stable indicators that show a new predictable baseline. We are some years from that since the full economic effects of Covid have not fully shaken out. There’s also war on the European continent and deterioration of relations with China. We’re also in a cycle of rising interest rates, all of which dictate caution and impact our regional recovery. There’s some emerging trends but nothing that I’d wager money on now. We’re in a wait and see moment.
I agree Alonso. I didn’t mean to say we were in a new normal. For example, before Omicron people predicted 2021 would be the new normal, and in the spring of 2022 interest rates were almost zero and the federal government was still issuing trillions in stimulus bills. But some do think 2022 would determine whether WFH was a fad or not.
2023 will definitely at least be a sign, if not the new normal, about public budgets (cities, counties) and that is the bigger point, including agencies like ST. The foreclosure of Southport is not a new normal, but a sign of a new normal. Both total tax revenues, and how it has been reallocated among cities and within cities, will definitely affect projects. For example, The Seattle Times predicts Seattle will need to cut at least $250 million from its operating budget, and I think that is driving Harrell’s reluctance to commit any city money to DSTT2 or WSBLE. No doubt the $31 trillion federal debt will limit what the feds can do. So we can see the markers of the new normal, although how it fully works out time will tell.
I do know you won’t see any new financing for commercial office buildings in this region for some time, and much of Link was based on that TOD driving ridership and farebox recovery.
And Southport is in undesirable South King County, and in a hard-to-get-to location (only 405, and Stride which hasn’t started yet). It was always going to be more vulnerable than offices in downtown Seattle or Bellevue. The city of Renton putting such high expectations into it was questionable. They said things like “The Landing will become the next Fremont, the next Ballard.” Meanwhile it has about three apartment buildings and big-box stores like Target with surface parking lots. Not a wide range of bars, and not a pleasant place to be in. Renton should focus on a more integrated approach, and make a walkable corridor neighborhood between downtown Renton and Southport, if it really wants to support a major business center at Southport.
“And Southport is in undesirable South King County, and in a hard-to-get-to location (only 405, and Stride which hasn’t started yet). It was always going to be more vulnerable than offices in downtown Seattle or Bellevue”.
Occupancy rates in Seattle are only 40%. The difference is Southport was never able to get tenants to commit to leases to begin with since it opened in 2019, the pandemic hit, and then WFH.
Offices in Seattle and Bellevue are older and so have tenants with binding leases (it took our firm almost two years for our lease to expire so we could leave Seattle because no landlord will let you out early because they know they can’t fill the space with the sublease market flooded with office space). As those leases roll off the vacancy rate (space with no lease) will start to match the non-occupancy rate (60% — unoccupied space with a lease) and those buildings will begin to be foreclosed upon or the developers will walk away, not unlike the vacant buildings Constantine hopes to redevelop as part of DSTT2.
It is true Renton is not Class A space, but there is very little Class A space, maybe Bellevue Way and maybe a few buildings in downtown Seattle. (I would put Wilburton in the Class B- or C office range, East Main Class C, The Spring Dist. at least right now Class B- to C, Redmond Town Center Class C office because it is suburbia). If Mike thinks Renton has poor access with 405 and I-5, 167 and Maple Valley Highway, then Redmond truly has terrible access.
But even then, prime tenants like Amazon are finding out they need maybe 50% of their Class A space in the future, and that Class A space is usually much more expensive at a time when all companies must cut costs (especially Amazon which is down to its 2018 stock price and just had its worst year since 2001, yes 2001, so Jasse’s job is hanging by a thread to lower costs to raise profits).
I will be interested in the auction. The lender will have a floor set. The outstanding loan not including liens is $288 million. Southport was started with a very low interest rate but probably a floating rate. Any new buyer will be borrowing at much higher rates, if they can borrow. My guess is there are no acceptable bids, which is bad because when banks own foreclosed properties they do nothing with them because that is not their field of expertise.
“If Mike thinks Renton has poor access with 405 and I-5, 167 and Maple Valley Highway”
I said Southport has poor access. It’s on Lake Washington at the north end of Renton Boeing and The Landing. The closest freeway is 405. The others all require crossing downtown Renton on surface streets to get to it. And downtown Renton has significant congestion.
I was kinda wondering about that if Southport had good connections (or more accurately if office workers can reach it easily).
Honestly the commute (assuming these are all car drivers) looks decent when spot checked it on google maps. From Seattle or Redmond to Southport only took 30 minutes at 8 am. From Bothell it does take 40 minutes, but that still seems reasonable considering how far one is traveling. If one travels north from say Auburn sure the traffic is much worse to reach Southport, but the Bellevue or Seattle offices are even farther away. The only real region it takes really long to get to Southport is North Seattle, kinda unsurprising given it’s on the opposite side of Lake Washington.
Or I don’t know was traffic much worse before covid south bound on 405 to reach Renton that one would take i5 south and then drive through downtown Renton?
I agree with Mike. Southport is in a bad location. It’s difficult to reach No matter what mode. It’s even 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile from the end of RapidRide F — plus it’s not a pleasant walk. The Renton Landing proximity is a great nearby land use for it — but there isn’t good pedestrian connectivity.
Stride won’t help. Stride is planned to stop at NE 44th and South Renton as the nearest stops, both locations are over two miles from Southport. If ST added at stop at Sunset Blvd it would be closer (and frankly it is a strategic place for a stop with Renton Landing and East Renton close by). Even with a median stop there, it’s way up on a slope and would be a long vertical distance to Southport so that probably why it’s skipped by Stride..
It will be interesting to see if someone proposes something interesting that could be done. I’m just not sure what that would be. Waterfront campuses don’t have allure for office locations if they aren’t convenient.
There was a ferry proposal to there. While it sounds novel, a ferry ride there would take a long time.
Economic prognostication aside, this is a major bummer for Renton. I’ve gone to meetings at this hotel, and thought the vision was great and you could clearly see the full build out (which would have moved all of structured parking into the interior & away from the pedestrian spaces ) would have made for a nice, dense development to anchor the north edge of urban Renton.
Like much of the region, Renton doesn’t yet have the rental rates to merit high quality midrise development, office or otherwise. Bel-Red, along with most of the hip neighborhoods of Seattle, is a completely different story. Comparing Southport to Bellevue/Redmond is about as relevant as comparing to Ellensburg. East Link will be fine. Also, it’s notable the apartment buildings & hotels are not involved. Bel-Red needs a steady pipeline of housing; it already has plenty of Class A office space built around the Spring District station, to say nothing of the existing office towers in Bellevue downtown.
It was a really ambitious project. The developer pre-Covid even floated around the idea of launching a ferry service from Renton to SLU in order to entice a major tech client to lease out the project. It got some local press when it was announced. My reaction at the time was that it seemed a little out there but all it takes is one major company signing a long term lease to make the investment worthwhile. The unfortunate thing is that this was a purely speculative play on the part of the developer with no leasee as partner before being shovel ready.
Not sure if it’s been reported yet, but the ST report to the System Expansion committee today is going to include concerns that the projected spring 2025 opening for East Link is in danger of further delay due to slow progress on I-90. Brutal.
I don’t think it’s been reported. I’m assuming you’re talking about from this power point?
> Track reconstruction progressing slower than planned – contractor has brought on additional field supervisors and ramping up craft labor this month
> If pace does not improve starting this month, Spring 2025 opening in jeopardy of delay
> Active discussions weighing all options
“Not sure if it’s been reported yet, but the ST report to the System Expansion committee today is going to include concerns that the projected spring 2025 opening for East Link is in danger of further delay due to slow progress on I-90. Brutal.”
I just don’t know how brutal it is. My guess is there won’t be a peep on the eastside about a further delay. The express buses work well today, folks still are WFH, congestion is not bad, few go into Seattle, and it is very hard for an eastsider to see some benefit from East Link over current buses they are missing out on.
There is also quite a bit of blowback toward ST and East Link right now because some of the SFH zones along East Link look like they will be upzoned to four plexes with no parking requirements when there is so little benefit to these neighborhoods from East Link.
Just like the DSA and Chamber and CID with DSTT2, the stakeholders and citizens on the eastside just don’t see any benefit from East Link, but were pretty agnostic about it and the delays, until their neighborhoods got upzoned for East Link they will never use, and very few ever will. Eastsiders can’t have a discussion about whether the $5.5 billion cost of East/Redmond Link was worth the benefit because there can see no benefit.
Cities like MI got stations and roundabouts years ago, and now upzoned residential zones so East Link can try to match its dishonest ridership estimates used to sell the levies, but won’t get East Link until who knows when and cannot see any benefit whatsoever from East Link. They rightfully feel they would have been better off without East Link, including whatever it brings from Seattle to the eastside.
You can’t call it clutching at pearls if eastsiders are saying it isn’t the money so much, we just wish we didn’t have East Link because there is no benefit, and now ST is damaging our number one priority why we moved to the eastside, our SFH zones, to meet dishonest ridership estimates. Kemper Freeman, the CID, DSA, Chamber, Amazon all had the power to get their wish of no Link near them, but not these eastside SFH zones.
“…and now ST is damaging our number one priority why we moved to the eastside, our SFH zones,…”
I thought you said in a recent comment that those don’t exist?
> You can’t call it clutching at pearls if eastsiders are saying it isn’t the money so much, we just wish we didn’t have East Link because there is no benefit, and now ST is damaging our number one priority why we moved to the eastside, our SFH zones, to meet dishonest ridership estimates. Kemper Freeman, the CID, DSA, Chamber, Amazon all had the power to get their wish of no Link near them, but not these eastside SFH zones.
I find it a bit dishonest to claim the link is really upzoning a vast number of sfh zones. Most of the east link station locations are near commercial zones. South of the Mercer island station is mainly the retail zone. The only sfh area that potentially might be impacted by say the state bill is the area north of the Mercer Island station.
Also where there any serious upzonings for mercer island SFH regions? Checking the map mercer island is mainly still single family homes with some ludicrous lot requirements (12,000 sq. ft. lot?) The apartments built look like there were all in former commercial areas. https://mieplan.mercergov.org/public/APL21-001/exh.%2024-%20mercer%20island%20zoning%20map.pdf
Then over on eastside the Bellevue downtown station, Wilburton, spring district, Belred and the overlake, redmond technlogy one are all surrounded by commercial or offices. The only station near SFH is the east main station and kind of south bellevue station, though even that one has a park to the east
The area near South Bellevue station will be upzoned to the West but honestly I can’t imagine the impact being large. That hill is steep, and there is only one road into the neighborhood within a quarter mile of the station, I think – which immediately degenerates into residential side streets with no sidewalks. It’s not a great place to increase density without changes to the city-provided facilities and potentially some regrading, which… I doubt will happen.
And, to the East, it’s all wetlands, so no housing can be built there anyway.
“The express buses work well today,”
Says a non-rider, who has no idea.
“…and now ST is damaging our number one priority why we moved to the eastside, our SFH zones,…”
“I thought you said in a recent comment that those don’t exist?”
I said pure SFH ONLY zones (in which only a SFH can be built) don’t exist, although many on this blog think they do. (I was going to clarify this point in my original post but figured most on this blog would understand the difference). I don’t know of any eastside city that does not allow a DADU or ADU on any SFH lot. The only areas I am familiar with that don’t allow ADU’s/DADU’s are rural areas, and that was due to a ruling by the GMHB applying the GMA that was the subject of a state bill this last session to allow one to three DADU’s per rural lot (that tend to be larger) that environmental groups opposed because they felt it encouraged sprawl into rural areas.
Depending on the maximum size of an allowed DADU and whether there is any GFAR bonus there is very little difference with a duplex.
“The express buses work well today,”
“Says a non-rider, who has no idea.”
Do you have any data that says otherwise on the eastside Mike other than anecdotal experience? Even though you live in Seattle, can you point to ridership data that suggests the express buses are full, or even close to full? Most people on the eastside are not riding buses or express buses today, but that does not mean they don’t run and have the same travel times, coverage and necessary capacity as East Link will, plus often with one seat and no transfer. I haven’t heard any complaints from eastsiders about the express buses, although as I said very few are riding them. Which express buses are you claiming on the eastside are not working well today, as far as transit goes, or are running with materially less frequency than pre-pandemic despite much lower ridership.?
> I said pure SFH ONLY zones (in which only a SFH can be built) don’t exist, although many on this blog think they do. (I was going to clarify this point in my original post but figured most on this blog would understand the difference).
You yourself know about the lot size, parking and other requirements that prevent it from actually adding density. Not sure why in other comments you would say upzoning is useless because it doesn’t actually add density without changing other requirements, then over here claim that Mercer Island seriously upzoned in the past.
> until their neighborhoods got upzoned for East Link they will never use,
Mercer Island either way cannot stay stagnant forever. There will always be infinite excuses why not to upzone. Honestly is there any magical criteria that you would ever accept.
“an you point to ridership data that suggests the express buses are full, or even close to full?”
The issue is not full buses, it’s half-hourly gaps between runs evenings and weekends, and one 45-minute gap on the 550. And periodic congestion that adds to travel time. All this makes it harder to use transit, so it’s not surprising fewer people do.
“that does not mean they don’t run and have the same travel times, coverage and necessary capacity as East Link will,”
That’s completely false. The 550 runs every 10 minutes peak hours, 15 minutes weekdays and Saturdays, and 30 minutes evenings and Sundays. The 545 is similar but with 30-minute Saturdays. Link is expected to run every 8 minutes peak, 10 minutes off-peak, and 15 minutes after 10pm. Link’s travel time from Westlake to Bellevue Downtown is expected to be 20-25 minutes, compared to 30-45 minutes for the 550. Link to Redmond Downtown will probably be around 35 minutes, compared to the 545’s 43 minutes. There are no express buses at all to Spring District or Overlake Village. Between downtown Bellevue and downtown Redmond, the only express bus is peak-only if that route is still running. All that makes the network more useful than the existing express bus network, so that will attract more riders.
“You yourself know about the lot size, parking and other requirements that prevent it from actually adding density. Not sure why in other comments you would say upzoning is useless because it doesn’t actually add density without changing other requirements, then over here claim that Mercer Island seriously upzoned in the past.”
WL, I never said MI upzoned in the past. In fact, in 2017 it downzoned residential regulatory limits, mainly GFAR (gross floor area to lot area ratio) to prevent McMansions. It even downzoned part of the town center in 2016 south of 29th to reduce maximum mixed use building heights from 4 to 3 stories which I think was a mistake (the rest of the town center is 5 story. The hope was this downzone would “condense” retail north of 29th, but nothing has been built in the town center in nearly a decade).
MI does not require any kind of additional permitting for a DADU or ADU other than the building permits required for any construction. No additional onsite parking spots are required for an ADU/DADU. Unlike a subdivision, access roads do not have to be wider for an additional dwellings like a DADU (which is deducted from the allowed lot coverage). Lots 10,000 sf or less get an additional 500 sf for a DADU or ADU. So I don’t understand how you think these regulatory tools hinder DADU’s or ADU’s. This was not an upzone: MI has had its ADU/DADU policy for over 20 years, and it has been considered a model ADU/DADU ordinance. This is how MI and many eastside cities increase density and was the law in Seattle until 2017.
The owner must live in one of the units if they rent the other, which is quite common among cities (I think only Seattle got rid of that requirement after extensive litigation). The ADU/DADU must be between 220 and 900 sf to keep them affordable. On lots over 10,000 sf there is no GFAR bonus because the lots are large enough anyway.
Now let’s compare that to HB 1110 and a duplex:
There will be no GFAR bonus for a duplex, and my guess is cities will eliminate the GFAR bonus for ADU/DADU’s to make this uniform. Cities can require each dwelling to have two onsite parking spots under 1110, unlike an ADU/DADU today. Again my guess is cities will require two parking spots for an ADU/DADU because regulatory limits for a DADU, duplex, four plex must be the same. The owner will have to live in one of the units if renting out the other. The lot will not be legally split.
You are correct height, lot coverage (impervious surface limits), yard setbacks, and gross floor area to lot are ratio will stay the same whether a SFH, ADU, DADU, duplex or four plex. More dwellings can be created but not more GFA under 1110, plus each unit under 1110 must have two parking spots and its own separate kitchen and living area. A four plex would need 8 onsite parking spots
However ADU’s and DADU’s may lose any bonus GFAR and exemptions from parking limits because the regulations for a duplex — four plex must be the same for a SFH or SFH+ DADU under 1110, which technically will be a downzone.
And MI probably has the largest minimum lot sizes in suburban King Co. which allows the area for a SFH plus DADU. When you get to smaller lot sizes builders need every sf for the main house and so rarely build DADU’s or ADU’s.
“Link is expected to run every 8 minutes peak, 10 minutes off-peak, and 15 minutes after 10pm. Link’s travel time from Westlake to Bellevue Downtown is expected to be 20-25 minutes, compared to 30-45 minutes for the 550”.
I doubt those frequencies on East Link Mike, not based on ridership and frequencies on Link today (and assuming four car trains can run every 8 minutes across the bridge span at 50 mph). When you really look at traffic congestion today, and HOV lanes (which are not necessary), your travel times above have a five-minute difference between the 550 and East Link from Westlake to Bellevue Downtown, plus the walk from 110th to Bellevue Downtown. The frequencies from the MI park and ride today among all the buses downtown (although few go there today) is around every 5 minutes. The East Link stations you list today are either empty like S. Bellevue or undeveloped like The Spring Dist. At least the buses go where the riders want to go.
You also neglect the transfers. Today the 554 is a one seat ride to Issaquah. With East Link it will take a transfer, and transfers on MI will have 30-90 minute frequencies off peak to the Issaquah/North Bend area. It is one of the reasons the 630 and 554 to Bellevue Way will continue when East Link opens.
The eastside subarea already spends $64 million/year on express buses, many to Seattle and back. N KC contributes nothing to these buses. Based on ridership today, including in the evening and on weekends when ridership is nearly nil, ST can’t run express buses empty because one rider might have to wait 15 minutes.
The reason frequency between Redmond and Downtown Bellevue on buses today is low is because so few ride it. ST and Metro are not idiots: they know that if they increase frequencies they will increase costs but not increase total ridership. Even ST, pre-pandemic, ST estimated 1300 total boardings in downtown Redmond, and I am sure that is high.
I am not saying East Link won’t open, or that trains won’t be able to travel across the concrete floating bridge at 50 mph every 8 minutes, I am just saying the benefit to the eastside transit rider over buses today will be very marginal, and the benefit to the 95% of eastsiders who don’t ride transit zero.
Which is handy if you are Balducci and East Link is now likely delayed over 6 years, because very few care. Saving five minutes from Westlake to 112/110th is not on their radar because they are not going to Westlake. Balducci’s reelection will have nothing to do with East Link or transit (or DSTT2 although she did a pretty good job with DSTT2 keeping eastside riders in DSTT2). Of course, last summer WSDOT bungled the closure of I-90 over MI for two days causing terrible congestion and the eastside citizens went absolutely nuts, and WSDOT apologized profusely.
East Link should get more ridership than any particular bus route it’s replacing because it can handle many more combinations of overlapping trips. For example, you’ve got Bellevue to downtown Seattle, Redmond to downtown Seattle, and Redmond to Bellevue, all on the same train. And, there’s more. Link offers a one seat ride onward to Capitol Hill, which the the 500 doesn’t. Link offers a one seat ride to Seattle from the spring district and Overlake Village, trips which currently require time consuming transfers. Downtown Bellevue to downtown Redmond takes forever on the B line, Link will be much faster and attract more riders.
Link also has potential to get some park and ride riders in the form of students going to UW, since that will be a one seat ride from Mercer Island and South Bellevue. Today, those in the area looking to drive to a bus to UW have no good alternative except South Kirkland park and ride and the 255, which is a much further drive, plus a bus that gets stuck in traffic near Montlake.
No one of the above cases is a huge ridership draw by itself, but together, 5 riders here, 3 there, 4 there, etc. it adds up.
In any case, Sound Transit has never held ridership to a standard on Link before where you take the number of riders per hour, divide by the capacity of a 4 car train, and run that many trains per hour. Rather, they run Link every 10 minutes because that’s what they promised to do. On top of that, the East Link trains continue to Northgate, so if east Link were to run less often than central Link, that would mean uneven frequencies between downtown and Northgate, which would mean alternating crowded trains and empty trains there, which is also something that Sound Transit would like to avoid.
> In any case, Sound Transit has never held ridership to a standard on Link before where you take the number of riders per hour, divide by the capacity of a 4 car train, and run that many trains per hour.
That is what all transit agencies do eventually. That’s how they decide where to expand or cut off the higher frequency period off peak. Especially since the operational cost is basically going to double once east link is up. The amount of ridership will definitely dictate how frequent the trains run especially off peak
Several factors go into frequency. How full trains are is only one of them. Europe and Asia run trains and buses frequently full-time because that’s the way to get people out of their cars. Link has always had a 10-minute minimum until 10pm, except during the height of the pandemic. It was widely criticized for having 15-30 minute frequency then. The scenario for an Eastside starter line published a few months ago has 10-minute frequency.
Daniel, there has never been, is not now nor will there ever in the future be ANY possibility that East Link will go anywhere other than DSTT1.
It simply can’t.
If it ever opens, the useless thing will leap across I-5 about thiry feet up and Airport Way about fifty. It then will take a long curved path from Airport Way and Plummer to Seattle Way and Fifth South to descend that fifty feet, at which point it will merge with the tracks from the busway currently hosting Line 1. The structure is already in place and the trackway is being completed.
How would it then descend an additional fifty to eighty feet to a junction with the DSTT2 south tail tunnel at South of CID?
So, Member Balducci did not “ensure that East Link gets into the good tunnel”. That’s a done deal. What she was trying to do was give The Board the opportunity to “fail upward” by planning for a worst-case unaffordable WSBLE with Line 1 in the original tunnel.
They could then say “We were concerned about possible cost-overruns and, so, studied this as a backup plan.”
Cheap at ten times the price.
Yeah I just saw that last evening. I believe the latest published capital progress report (for Feb I believe) also indicated that progress replacing the defective plinths has been slower than anticipated. There was some blaming of the weather in several areas of the report, i.e. including other projects, which seemed pretty lame.
How are Link trains delivered from the manufacturer? Do they attach them to freight trains to ship them across the country, and then attach them to trucks? Where is the nearest active freight station to the Bellevue base? Can the long rail cars fit on trucks and turn on streets?
There were past comments (In the Sound Transit meetings) about just using the i-90 rail bridge to move trains during non-revenue time, which moving trains across the bridge once or twice would potentially be safe. Given that one can just use the same route trains take to reach the existing OMF and eventually reach the bellevue OMF.
> Where is the nearest active freight station to the Bellevue base
Checking https://www.openrailwaymap.org/ practically it’d be Seattle or Tukwila, you’d have to use either i90 freeway or i405 to reach it. I have no idea if it could actually reach it with those relatively sharp freeway entrances/exits, but probably not impossible given say BART’s deliver of their subway cars
I do know that trains are to be received into OMF-C for testing & certification, and then some trucked over to OMF-E for storage prior to opening of East Link.
I listened in on this afternoon’s ST System Expansion Committee meeting and when Ron Lewis was giving his presentation of progress updates for capital projects currently in construction he included a section on the LRV fleet expansion. (I believe the presentation is now up on the documents page.) He mentioned that some of the recently delivered vehicles are in storage at the OMF-E but I didn’t catch the split (number of LRVs) being stored there versus the OMF-C.
I believe Brightline’s newest rail cars were delivered to Florida via train. I don’t know if you can do likewise to Seattle, given the comments below.
Hey, I remember when…
Deliveries such as that could be made by rail…
Right to the maintenance facility…
But, what the hell do I know?
There was an earlier discussion about streetcars in Zagreb vs. Seattle with a lot of very good technocratic points.
I wanted to draw attention to an article I saw which discusses trams in two other cities (Geneva and Yerevan) with a distinctly less technocratic, more humanist-driven, literary take. I greatly enjoyed reading it and think it’s worth seeing, especially for those who are more technocratic-minded here on the blog.
I’m understand the allure of streetcars, but the reason (at least for me) why to be more technocratic is that American policy makers already fell in love with streetcars in the 2010s and they all ended up failing. It is hard for me to find a modern American streetcar that even has comparable ridership to their parallel bus routes. Especially when the cost of a 2-mile streetcar extension is equivalent to 3 rapidride 5~10 mile extensions.
I don’t necessarily disagree, but as they say, it’s useful to understand your opponent, if nothing else :)
Technically, the “streetcars” in Zagreb and nearly place in Europe are “trams” and are usually wider than our streetcars, but not always. But they are always more capacious. If they’re single-car because of short blocks in historic city centers, they have more sections than the Portland-Seattle models. But most are multi-car, spreading operator costs over more riders. Most systems have sections of reserved right-of-way through choke-points and many have transit-pedestrian malls in the central city. These are much safer for the pedestrians who frequent them because the trams almost never leave their prescribed guide way.
In other words, they aren’t just glorified buses, but shapers of the urban experience.
“every place in Europe”
Building CCC on Third Ave would also get DSA support. It would allow opportunity to completely redesign Third without disrupting the businesses on First Ave and Pike Place much. Call me trolling all you want, but I just can’t fathom how anyone thinks the bus transit experience through Third right now is a good experience or something to be celebrated. I love taking buses across the city, except through Third and waiting for buses on Third.
I also hate how so many bus routes go to Third Ave downtown rather than many other logical locations. For instance Queen Anne has 5 bus routes that all go to downtown, but not a single bus route that actually connects East QA from West QA, nor a single seat ride from QA to SLU or Capitol Hill. The buses practically empty out at lower QA for people to then transfer onto the Metro 8 while a more empty bus then goes to Third Ave.
Just think about this idiocy. QA is literally two miles from SLU but not single bus from the 5 routes that go up the hill goes straight to SLU. They all go to downtown instead. It’s such a missed opportunity to provide good bus transit to the closest residential neighborhood to SLU. These bus routes also have highly convoluted and entirely too long and illogical routes through bottlenecks that lead to constant delays. Examples like this abound for many other neighborhoods.
If the Link spine is deemed worthy of splitting, then it’s also time to consider splitting some of the north-south Metro routes.
QA is literally two miles from SLU but not single bus from the 5 routes that go up the hill goes straight to SLU.
I could see the 8 being an extension of the 1, 2 or 13. Probably not all three. Maybe the 2/13, since some of those riders could take the 3/4. Riders heading downtown could transfer to the 1, D, 24 or 33. Personally I think Denny (the transfer point) is a lot less pleasant than Third, but whatever. If they walked over to Third and Cedar, they could also pick up the 3 and 4 (and have a more pleasant place to wait, in my opinion). It works either way. There are enough buses at various points to make the transfer relatively painless.
So yeah, I could definitely see it. There are issues though. You break the existing connection. Every Queen Anne bus goes to the Central Area. If the 2 just laid over with the existing 8, you haven’t saved any money (although it hasn’t cost you anything, I suppose).
Here is an alternative idea. As part of the RapidRide G restructure, I’ve been pushing for the 2 to use Pike/Pine (e. g. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=17ppODdas2SkRl6QJF5vNgY-n6FhX9PqQ&usp=sharing). After going downtown, the 2 would follow its current route to Queen Anne (becoming the 2/13). But what if it didn’t? Instead, it could loop around downtown, just like the 10 and 11 (which also go on Pike/Pine). Now you’ve eliminated the piece from Denny to Pine (on Third). This saves money, which can go into running buses more often.
Because the biggest problem — by far — is that our buses don’t run often enough. The Central Area and Upper Queen Anne — areas that have grown substantially over the years, and are very close to areas that are now routinely considered part of downtown (Uptown and First Hill) have really poor headways. This would definitely help.
The toughest problem (other than just general inertia) is moving the wire. The 2/13 run on wire. The 8 does not. For that matter, neither does the 11. So that means running wire from Madison Park to Third and Denny (where it would meet up with the existing wire). Personally I would like that — I think it would be worth it. But that is a lot of new wire.
People have talked about extending the 8 to Smith Cove, but that doesn’t get you nearly as much as this extension would. This extension saves money.
Ya, I feel your pain. It is really clear that 3rd Ave just isn’t working well (maybe at all) in its current configuration. And, when I say that, I mean it isn’t working well for transportation and it isn’t working well for the urban environment. It has become a case study in what NOT to do. A failure.
And I also understand your pain with E-W routes. But I wouldn’t be so hard on Metro. We are sort of in a transition phase per transit right now. The job of heavy lifting on the N-S hourglass that is Seattle is being taken over by ST and LR, but Metro is still running a network that in many ways predates the arrival of fast, reliable, N-S transit. Metro appears to be lagging in adapting to this reality.
I think Metro will continue to adapt, but it will take time. Certainly fixing the underperforming buses on 3rd is part of that transition, and SC can play a role in that. But more fundamental still is that Metro needs to accept the fact that their future will be more of a supporting partner to ST and not a competitor.
This will become clearer with the opening of every LR extension. But I do think eventually Metro will pivot to providing more E-W connectors, as well as more E-W LR feeders. Metro really has no choice, because the future of high capacity transit in this city is rail.
It is really clear that 3rd Ave just isn’t working well (maybe at all) in its current configuration. And, when I say that, I mean it isn’t working well for transportation and it isn’t working well for the urban environment.
Complete nonsense. Third Avenue is working just fine. Buses go through there with relatively little congestion. If you are trying to get from one end of downtown to the other, your wait time is measured in seconds, not minutes. Remember when they kicked the buses out of the tunnel? Ridership within downtown — on Link — actually went down. The people who used to go into the tunnel and take the first vehicle that arrived got tired of waiting for the train — they went to the surface. Third carries a lot of people from one end of downtown to the other because the spine works. It also allows the bus to skip stops, which means you have coverage, but faster travel (this would be damn near impossible with a streetcar system). For those that arrive to downtown via a bus, it eliminates a transfer, while enabling them to get to their destination quickly. The hours when cars are allowed has gone down.
There are ways in which it could be better. They have added kiosks for off-board payment — they could add more. Probably the biggest thing that needs to be done is to extend it north, to Denny, or better yet, Mercer. The couplet idea is fine. It could be ideal if it is contraflow, as that eliminates the issues with truck and general purpose access (you allow cars all the time, just not in the direction the bus is going).
In contrast, a shuttle system would delay riders. It isn’t clear if it would actually save money. Truncating buses at Link stations works because the train has oodles of excess capacity. Our streetcars don’t. Our streetcar carry about as many riders as a bus. You have saved nothing, unless you get bigger streetcars. So now you our either making every streetcar stop much bigger, or running small streetcars followed by big streetcars (with the big ones ending, where, exactly?). Or maybe you figure that riders on the existing streetcar might as well transfer too (everyone join the party). You still don’t have a place to put the buses. Through routing buses have to park on either end (costing money). You have spent a ton of money digging up Third Avenue (to put in rails) are now forcing an extra transfer (or two) and you it isn’t clear that you have saved anything.
“ Third Avenue is working just fine.”
“If you are trying to get from one end of downtown to the other, your wait time is measured in seconds, not minutes”
Complete and total BS. Third Ave is not “working just fine”, unless your only measure of “goodness” is whether or not a bus can make it through while carrying a handful of passengers. That has never been in doubt. What is a problem is that those buses are negatively impacting 3rd while carrying very few passengers compared to what most cities have been able to accomplish.
And show me one bus that can make it from one end of downtown to the other end in mere seconds. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen. Not even for Link.
Let’s stick to the facts here, What is happening on 3rd is a real problem. Other cities have been able to solve similar problems. Seattle can too. But doubling down on the current state of failure isn’t going to change things.
Something has to be done. One of the leading candidates being discussed is a hub and shuttle type system to fully replace the 3rd Ave buses. It has worked in other cities, it can work here too.
My only twist on that concept is to use the CCC and streetcars as the shuttles instead of yet more buses. The obvious advantages of streetcars just make the concept that much better, and should make the revitalization of 3rd that much easier.
It’s not a radical concept. It’s actually an incremental approach that should work well. We just need the will to make it happen.
> My only twist on that concept is to use the CCC and streetcars as the shuttles instead of yet more buses. The obvious advantages of streetcars just make the concept that much better, and should make the revitalization of 3rd that much easier.
The hub and spoke model can work in certain situations — not for a 1~1.5 mile section forcing everyone to transfer. An (hypothetical) example of that would be say the 40 and 62 continuing straight north after Fremont and have an east west bus that people transfer to then reach downtown. Then you would potentially “save” three miles of busses traveling from Fremont to downtown and using those to increase frequency on the north/south route. In your case the busses really aren’t saving that many service hours by avoiding one more mile to reach pioneer square.
Also the transfer penalty for a one mile route is pretty high — generally it’s more used in the context of like 3~5 miles long where the extra frequency is worth the transfer penalty and that it is more likely your end destination is on the closed portion.
There’s a reason why king metro is not taking the hub and spike model seriously for a 1 mile segment. It is only being proposed by the downtown association so they can remove a lane for sidewalks.
And show me one bus that can make it from one end of downtown to the other end in mere seconds. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen. Not even for Link.
Once again you have demonstrated your inability to read, combined with a nice straw man argument. I wrote:
your wait time is measured in seconds, not minutes
wait time. Get it: Wait Time. The time you spend waiting for a bus, not the time you spend riding it.
So now I’m spending time clarifying what should have been painfully obvious. Next you will write something about how wait time isn’t important, or some such nonsense. Then I’ll reference various studies from various experts about how it is. Round and round we go.
Meanwhile, you make completely unsubstantiated claims, such as:
those buses are negatively impacting 3rd
How? How are they negatively impacting 3rd?
while carrying very few passengers compared to what most cities have been able to accomplish.
Most cities? Do you know what the word “most” means? It means more than half. Do you have any evidence to support this claim?
The report on Third Avenue listed several other cities. Only two — New York and L. A. — had streets with buses that carried more riders. These are mega-cities; they are huge compared to Seattle. In contrast, 3rd Avenue carried more riders than our peers listed on that report: Vancouver, Minneapolis, Denver and San Fransisco. In other words, in that report, our buses carried more people on Third than most streets in the other cities.
Let’s stick to the facts here, What is happening on 3rd is a real problem.
That is not a fact. Jeesh, the irony. I’m listing actual facts (e. g. the number of people who ride the buses on Third, the widths of the various streets, or the pattern of bus ridership). You are spouting unsubstantiated opinion. You say there is as problem, but you have yet to say what it is, exactly.
You are merely proposing a tram, simply because you like trams. No evidence or argument to show how it would actually be better for riders. You seem to think that by being a tram, it will automatically make things better, even though there are many trams across the country — even two in this very city — that have not been especially effective or popular. The ridership is much lower than expected, probably because the city is not like you. We really don’t care whether it is a tram, or a bus (especially since many of our buses are remarkably like our trams, since they run on wire). What we care about is how long we have to wait, or how fast the vehicle is, or what the transfer is like.
All things being equal, I would choose rail over bus. They are far more pleasant to ride. And they are more predictable. The routes are fixed. If you made their routes lane-dedicated, they would be fast as well.
All things are not equal, however.
Downtown bus routes are confusing and slow. I just take the train to downtown, then walk, ride a bike or rent a scooter. The distances arent that far for me to take a chance on getting on a wrong bus, or waiting for one in the wrong place, which is usually what happens to me when I try.
That might change if their were fixed, fast, frequent tram with a dedicated lane on 3rd. And I don’t think I am the only one.
But I completely agree that the problem with 3rd is mostly that our social safety net sucks, not that their are too many buses.
The exception is if I am taking an express bus from far away. Usually I hop off when I get the periphery of downtown, because they are so slow, but if they happen to be going exactly where I want to go, which is exceedingly rare, I will torture myself with to slow slog of being on a bus in traffic downtown through sheer laziness.
If the expresses went on 3rd, I might ride downtown a bit more because 3rd is quicker than most streets, but most expresses don’t use 3rd.
Yep. I completely missed the fact that you had randomly changed the topic of discussion from traveling from Renton to Ballard (which almost nobody does) to traveling a few blocks on 3rd (which almost nobody does). My bad.
But your inclusion of the word “wait” is meaningless anyhow. Nobody does what you are saying, and there would be no meaningful difference in wait times anyhow between the current chaotic situation on Third and the situation with a hub and shuttle type system. If a person is only going a few blocks, then why do they care if it is on a random bus, or the next shuttle? They are essentially the same,
These hub and shuttle systems do work, and our peer cities have proven that. Only in Seattle are such ideas considered heresy.
And your assertion that everything is just fine on Third is clearly false. Read the news once in awhile. Things are most definitely not fine on Third, unless your only definition of “fine” is whether or not a bus can successfully pass through while carrying just 1 or 2 passengers.
Part of the problem with Third is most definitely the amount of pavement given over to buses at the expense of pedestrians. And part of the problem with Third is social disorder. As they say, “Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence!”
Look at the DSA presentation material and note where the largest volume of buses travel on Third. That stretch of Third just so happens to also be where the largest amount of social disorder can be found on Third. Coincidence? Probably not.
And, yes, correlation is not causation. But a thinking person who is trying to determine causation will usually look for correlations first. Ask anyone who has been involved in basic research and they will tell you all about it.
But bottom line? I think your assertion that everything is just fine on Third is absurd. Things are not fine on Third, and this city needs to make some changes.
The hub and shuttle system is one of the options under active discussion. My suggestion to combine the CCC with the hub and shuttle is not radical, it is incremental. It’s a two birds with one stone approach that could provide real dividends. And it is much better than the status quo.
Unless, of course, we care more about buses in this city than we do about people. Personally I care more about people. Third Ave needs a major redo, for the good of the people.
But I get it, you like buses.
> The hub and shuttle system is one of the options under active discussion.
As I noted above, the hub and shuttle system on 3rd avenue is advocated by the downtown association mainly from their perspective of trying to expand the sidewalk not King County Metro. It is not a serious workable transit proposal nor have they actually analyzed how bus routes would work beyond just having a one sentence saying ‘Requires transfers at the edge
of downtown’ and ‘Demands significant investment
in transit hubs’.
Like is one going to build some massive transit hub at Westlake and Pioneer Square for bus transfers then? And the downtown association likes that proposal the most because it gets the most sidewalk. Also where are these busses going to turn around so many busses at westlake and pioneer square? This really isn’t a serious proposal.
> These hub and shuttle systems do work, and our peer cities have proven that.
You’re a bit mistaken with say the hub and shuttle Denver example, their busses do also run ‘through’ service. The reason why they have the MallRide bus shuttle service for just that segment is because their trains from Union Station do not reach Civic Center Station destinations and light rail trains, so they are forced to transfer. It is not really a sign of success. It is so annoying that they literally split half their light rail trains to go to Union Station and half to Civic Center Station because they can’t get their commuter trains to reach Civic Center.
Wilshire Boulevard (La) and 5th avenue (Nyc) have the bus’ in the right lane so they can over take in the other lane also these mainly have one/two singular major bus routes.
For the San Francisco and Vancouver corridor examples they both end at the coast line, there is no need for busses to ‘go past or through’ the center core, nor transfer issues.
If the expresses went on 3rd, I might ride downtown a bit more because 3rd is quicker than most streets, but most expresses don’t use 3rd.
Bingo! Speed matters. The fact that Cam would rather the bus run on 3rd — because it is faster — is quite reasonable. It is normal, and studies prove it. Speed matters, and yes, Lazarus, frequency matters too. Being forced to get off the bus on one end of downtown, then wait for a slow streetcar, then back on another bus to complete your journey is not going to attract riders. It will do the opposite. It will push people to take cabs, or drive downtown because “they need their car in the middle of the day”, which is another of saying “the streetcar is too damn slow and infrequent”.
Part of the problem with Third is most definitely the amount of pavement given over to buses at the expense of pedestrians.
Once again, you have failed to consider the facts. Fourth Avenue is just as wide. So is Second Avenue. The only difference is that you have different vehicles.
You also seem to think that the only way we can possible reduce the width of the street is if we go with a shuttle system. That simply isn’t true. A couplet system would allow for wider sidewalks, while retaining the same level of throughput and speed. It would be disruptive, but nowhere near as disruptive as a streetcar shuttle system, that would be worse for riders.
You keep making baseless claims. The fact that you don’t even fact check the width of the street is just one example. You also claim that the only problem area is right on Third. This simply isn’t true: https://images.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-blade-downtown-map2.jpg?d=996×1024. This has little to do with transit. If it does, then wouldn’t “the Blade” move to the hub you are proposing (where all the buses end)? If the streetcar is just as good as the buses, wouldn’t it just continue to be there?
If your argument is that all we need to do is widen the street, then go with the couplet idea. But you are naive if you think that will solve the problem. Just read the article.
But that is not the only example. Consider this statement:
I completely missed the fact that you had randomly changed the topic of discussion from traveling from Renton to Ballard (which almost nobody does) to traveling a few blocks on 3rd (which almost nobody does)
First of all, there was nothing random about it. You simply didn’t understand that I gave an example, despite me using the word “example”. I then listed several examples, and WL listed some more. Now you think that no one actually rides the bus through downtown.
This is absurd. Prior to the pandemic, thousands of riders rode *Link* from one part of downtown to the other. Many more ride on the surface. Do you really think that no one is going from Belltown to the CID? Keep in mind, this is just one *example* — try not to fixate on the example, like you did before. All of these are examples of trips, that can be broken down into two general categories:
1) Trips from outside downtown to the other side of downtown.
2) Trips from inside downtown, along the existing spine.
Clearly there are a lot of people making these trips. I can cite examples, if you want, but it should be obvious.
Both of these are one-seat rides. The former reduces a transfer. The latter does in some cases, but like all spines, also allows for very frequent trips. In other words, wait time measured in seconds. Having two lanes each direction also allows for wider stop spacing, while retaining coverage — something that a streetcar couldn’t do. (OK, technically it could, but it would require a sophisticated and expensive system with switches, and use just as much space as is used by the buses, making the whole process pointless.)
These hub and shuttle systems do work, and our peer cities have proven that.
Like what? You keep mentioning these peer cities, without giving any actual examples. By and large, other cities *don’t* do what you are suggesting. Neither Portland nor Vancouver (clearly peer cities) do that. That’s because same direction transfers for a very short distance are very annoying, and you don’t save much (if anything) in terms of service. It is why we don’t truncate West Seattle buses at SoDo, even though (unlike your proposal) the savings would be significant. There is a reason why so many cities just run buses from one end of downtown to the other, instead of stopping at the edge, and asking people to transfer.
One thing you learn in engineering (practice) is that every implementation is a compromise. I have no doubt that our peer cities who have implemented hub and shuttle systems have also included various compromises in those implementations. That is just the difference between the real world and the armchair world.
But the existence of such compromises doesn’t mean that the implementations of our peer cities aren’t worthy of consideration. Quite the contrary, Seattle can learn both from their overall concept and from the real world compromises they were forced to accept.
That said, I wouldn’t give Metro much of a role in deciding the future of 3rd Ave. At the end of the day that is a Seattle street, owned and maintained by the people of Seattle. They should decide. Metro has a voice, but it is more of a supporting role.
And let’s face it, Metro really hasn’t exactly distinguished themselves of late with free creative thinking. If theirs was the only voice we wouldn’t have LR at all and the bus tunnel would still be full of buses, broken down escalators, etc. We are in a better place today.
Also, when Lynnwood Link and East Link finally open it is an opportunity to reduce the number of buses in 3rd. That will be a good day for the city of Seattle. I look forward to it, although it will only be an incremental improvement.
I love taking buses across the city, except through Third and waiting for buses on Third.
So you think it is a great idea for everyone to make an extra transfer on Third? Seriously? Your basic argument is “Third is unpleasant; let’s make everyone spend extra time on Third”.
Imagine someone from Renton, headed downtown. For example, 2nd and Union. This is what they do:
1) Take the bus to 3rd and Union.
2) Walk two blocks.
What you are proposing:
1) Take the bus to Jackson.
2) Transfer to the streetcar, and take it to 3rd and Union.
3) Walk two blocks.
How is that better? They have to spend more time on 3rd Avenue.
But wait, what if they are going somewhere else in the city. Let’s say, Ballard. This is what they do now:
1) Take the bus downtown.
2) Transfer to a bus headed to Ballard
3) Ride the bus to Ballard.
4) Walk from the bus stop.
Instead they will:
1) Take the bus to Jackson.
2) Take the streetcar to the other end of downtown.
3) Transfer to a bus headed to Ballard
4) Ride the bus to Ballard.
5) Walk from the bus stop.
This is supposed to be better? Please.
Huh? The city can’t fix the problems on 3rd because some poor soul might need to go from Renton to Ballard on transit? Really?
Sorry, but anyone making that commute, today or in the future, is in for a very bad experience. It’s like 2 hours each way at peak today! And I’d bet money that very few people make that commute anyhow.
Such trips shouldn’t be the basis of our transportation planning. Nor of our urban planning.
And if Seattle implements the hub and shuttle model that our peer cities have already successfully implemented, then it doesn’t really matter if they use bus or streetcar per transfers – it is the same number of transfers regardless of tech! Except streetcar has higher capacity, better ride quality, and fits in with the urban environment better. And takes less space.
Nope. Refusing to meaningfully address the issues on 3rd because some poor soul needs to commute from Renton to Ballard is just plain silliness. Adding a couple of minutes to a two hour commute is not the end of the world.
And if I was this poor soul, I’d try to figure out a way to use Link when doing this. It might take a bit longer, but at least I’d be comfortable while I wasted my life away.
The same problem occurs for shorter trips. For example West Seattle to SLU a one seat ride on the C line becomes a 3 seat ride on the C to pioneer square, streetcar up to westlake, then 40 to slu.
Or say rainier valley (rainier Ave) to Queen Anne from a two seat ride of the 7 and say D line becomes a 3 seat ride of 7 then streetcar then the D line.
“It’s like 2 hours each way at peak today!”
Where? What? To get 2 hours you’d have to take the 592 to Dupont or the 510 to Everett on a day when there’s gridlock on I-5. Getting from Pine Street to Jackson Street takes around ten minutes.
I concur. I was just responding to Ross’s example, which was pretty darn silly.
I think we have been conditioned locally to avoid transfers at all costs by literally decades of bad Metro bus-to-bus transfers. This is understandable given our local history.
But it is important to understand that not all transfers are created equal.
Bus-to-rail transfers are usually pretty good because of the frequency and reliability of rail.
And bus-to-shuttle transfers are usually also pretty good too because of the frequency of the shuttles. This is one of the reasons that our peer cities have been able to introduce their hub and shuttle systems without popular revolt or negative impacts to ridership. In fact, ridership often goes up due to the better service experiance available in their transit malls.
The only difficult transfer in the hub and shuttle system is the shuttle-to-bus transfer. This is due to the schedule unreliability of the departing bus. But this unreliability exists in the basic bus-to-bus transfer anyhow. It is a function of the bus, not the shuttle. So it is the same delay regardless of whether the shuttle is there or not.
I checked with the online tools. You get transit times up to almost 2 hours, depending on endpoint details and time of day. It is pretty darn horrific, and this is before consideration of the schedule unreliability of these long routes. Its horrific.
“You get transit times up to almost 2 hours,”
Which trips? Broadview to Burien on the 28/131? My trip to Lake Hills takes 2 hours (550 + B + 30 minutes of walking), but 3rd Avenue has nothing to do with it.
“not all transfers are created equal”
Right, the best transfer are a small percent of the trip, when one or both segments are long and the wait is short. Like Queen Anne to Rainier Beach, Kirkland to Ballard, downtown to Wedgwood, Capitol Hill to Greenwood, or Rainier Valley to eastern Renton. But in central Seattle and especially east Seattle, each segment is only one or two miles, and waits are up to 15 minutes, so you end up waiting as long as you’re riding, or waiting up to 30 minutes for two 15-minute routes. The routes on 3rd can doubtless be improved, but just eliminating them all and replacing them with a streetcar seems counterproductive.
I used to disapprove of through-routes like the 28/131, but I’ve realized they support a lot of overlapping trips that terminate in north downtown, mid downtown, lower downtown, or SODO, and you can transfer to it in north Seattle if you want to. It’s good to have routes like this or the C, D, E, 5, 40, 62 that go all the way through downtown. Those are the kinds of routes that should remain in any 3rd Avenue reorganization.
So let me get this straight. I throw out at an example. I specifically mention that it is an example. Yet you fixate on that particular example, as if it is not an example, but the only negative case. Then WL comes along, and explains to you that it is an example, and gives you more examples. Then you completely ignore the point, and continue to criticize the example as if no one in their right mind would ever want to get from Renton to Ballard, or any place along the way (like, say, Renton to the Seattle Center).
You don’t seem to get it. Same direction transfers for a very short distance are a bad idea. There are especially bad if it forces two transfers, which is what you are suggesting. Here are some examples:
23rd & Jackson to Queen Anne Avenue & Mercer — Right now you do this without a transfer. Now you would do it with two transfers.
23rd & Jackson to Belltown — See above.
MLK & Jackson to Queen Anne Avenue & Mercer — See above.
23rd & Jackson to Fremont — Two seat ride becomes three.
23rd & Jackson to Uptown — Two seat ride becomes three.
Do I really need to keep going? This is tedious. I can’t possible list every case, as there are simply too many.
And what do we get out of it? Nothing! Are trips faster? No! Do we save service time? No! The whole idea is silly, and based on the fact that you think streetcars are nifty.
This reads like someone who read a chapter out of Human Transit, and completely missed the point. Transfers have their place. Definitely. Grids often require a transfer for some trips (but not always). But forcing transfers right before people are about to reach their destination is a really bad idea. Riders hate this. Truncating all the West Seattle buses in SoDo would save us a huge amount of money (unlike your idea) but people in West Seattle would hate it. The problem is compounded because we have buses coming from all directions. So not only are we forcing one transfer, in many cases, we are forcing two. It is just a really bad idea.
Your “solution”, if you want to call it that, would not fix the problems on 3rd, it would make them worse. In what world does making the rider experience much worse “fixing things”.
Bus-to-rail transfers are usually pretty good because of the frequency and reliability of rail.
In what world would a streetcar running on Third be more reliable than a bus? It is absurd. If a bus encounters a problem, another bus can simply go around it. If a streetcar gets stuck, it messes up the entire line. This happens all the time in Toronto. It is just one of the trade-offs.
You keep making BS strawman arguments, like we all hate transfers, and have never seen a tram (they exist, in this far-off land). You ignore the terrible record of trams in this country, even though they were built with the same lack of reasoning. You simply ignore the advantages and disadvantages of them. You have a proposal (of sorts) that involves asking everyone to transfer to get to the middle of downtown. You have no qualms about three seat rides from the south end to the north end of the city. You wave your hand when it comes to all the potential problems (like layovers). You think that tearing up Third Avenue is going to somehow revitalize it.
Again, the problem isn’t mode. It is the network and congestion. Asking every rider to transfer to go half a mile doesn’t solve that problem.
“I just can’t fathom how anyone thinks the bus transit experience through Third right now is a good experience”
What makes it a bad experience is the misbehaving people on the sidewalk. Replacing buses with streetcars wouldn’t change that; it would just mean they’re standing in front of streetcar stations instead of bus stops.
“ What makes it a bad experience is the misbehaving people on the sidewalk. Replacing buses with streetcars wouldn’t change that”
Actually, that is not a true statement. Replacing buses with streetcars would most certainly improve the current bad experience on 3rd, and for a variety of reasons.
The current wall of buses with their skip stop spacing take up the majority of the street – almost the entire street in areas where SDOT has seen fit to provide street parking. This forces pedestrians into narrow strips, often in close proximity to bad influences, kills street life, and makes it difficult for business to be successful.
Additionally, the noise and fumes from all these buses make for a very unpleasant experience. Those people that get on or off at 3rd typically vacate the area quickly, and for good reason.
Streetcar would not be like this. Higher capacity means fewer total vehicles required. And using them as a hub and shuttle system means still fewer vehicles.
And fewer vehicles required translates into less lane space required, Streetcar would only take up about 20 ft of ROW, as opposed to the 50 of so feet required now. The space that is freed up would be turned back over to pedestrians.
And streetcars are both quieter and without fumes, further facilitating the rehabilitation of 3rd.
So, ya, replacing the buses on 3rd with streetcars would be a major improvement.
Before making big expensive plans for 3rd Avenue, remember that ST2 will be done in a few years and will vastly change downtown transit, before any 3rd Avenue makeover could be completed. Link will run every 3-5 minutes and be a viable north-south circulator. Dozens of express routes will be deleted or truncated at Lynnwod or Federal Way, freeing up space on 2nd and 4th Avenues if we want to move some 3rd Avenue routes there.
Also, installing surface rails on 3rd, or eliminating one or two lanes, would tear up the street like the First Hill Streetcar or Madison. That’s exactly what caused an uproar in CID that caused the politicians to move the station out of the neighborhood. Let’s at least wait a few years and see how much the problem of so many buses on 3rd solves itself before committing to some large makeover.
Another option is to inject some money to accelerate the RapidRide conversions that have already been proposed: I (Eastlake), R (Rainier), 40, 62, etc. The more RapidRide lines there are, the more it evens out bus utilization and makes it easier to reduce the number of other buses and move transfers out of downtown.
The current wall of buses with their skip stop spacing take up the majority of the street – almost the entire street in areas where SDOT has seen fit to provide street parking. This forces pedestrians into narrow strips, often in close proximity to bad influences, kills street life, and makes it difficult for business to be successful.
First Avenue: Four lanes, plus parking.
Second Avenue: Four lanes, plus bidirectional bike lane.
Third Avenue: Four lanes, plus parking.
Fourth Avenue: Four lanes, plus bidirectional bike lane.
Fifth Avenue: Three lanes.
So basically, Third Avenue is typical. It is just like any other street in terms of width. The only difference is that it has buses, instead of cars. I get it — you don’t like buses. It doesn’t matter that many of our buses are electric, or that the the diesel-hybrid buses are extremely clean — you just don’t like buses. They are an affront to your taste, I guess.
Mike is right, the only problem with Third is that the “Blade” has moved there. To quote this article:
The particulars have changed, as has its center of gravity: First Avenue to Second to Third. …
It is quite possible it will continue moving east, to Fourth or Fifth. Transit may influence it, but changing the mode to a streetcar won’t. To actually deal with the problem would take a big effort by the city (or some other agency) and that is unlikely. The cops do have a big presence now, as they are often parked next to McDonalds. I don’t know how much difference that makes.
This video popped into my feed yesterday:
Apparently San Jose wants to build mini autonomous vehicles that are only 4.5 feet wide, narrower than a typical elevator cab.
The video explains the technology using video clips from the maker, as well as why to not build this.
I will note how powerful a video is in explaining the opinion.
I believe micro-transit is the future, especially if the peak work commuter demand does not return. It really solves the first/last mile issue for areas that are not within walking distance of long-range transit like light rail.
The problem today is cost. With a park and ride the rider pays for the vehicle, gas, driver, insurance, and maintenance, with no union contracts or breaks. Once a government agency begins to provide basically what a park and ride does with micro-transit it gets very expensive.
The future for private transportation will be driverless too. After all, who wouldn’t accept a car and driver like rich people have if affordable. Once it goes driverless someone or entity will have to afford a huge fleet of driverless cars (rental car companies with their existing contracts with large auto manufacturers) with an app like Uber, and folks will sign up for a monthly subscription with a cost per mile, probably with congestion pricing, probably using something like WAZE to even out congestion, probably with an easy to calculate per mile tax to replace the gas tax. If you look at the explosion in miles ridden for Uber/Lyft you can see the future. Ride sharing is becoming more popular and lowers cost for Uber/Lyft today, and will likely be a key feature in the future for driverless transit.
I just don’t think government can replicate the same service for the same cost. Take the billions spent today for public transit and simply subsidize the same service for the poor so for once they have the same transportation as the rich.
If WSLE will cost somewhere between $180,000 to $360,000 per rider over 30 years on a fixed route few want to take so several transfers are required why not use those funds for micro transit that picks people up at their door, goes where they want, uses ride share, leverages cost savings by purchasing tens of thousands of vehicles at one time like rental car companies, provides a handy way to replace the gas tax, and has a built in congestion charge, and subsidizes the poor.
I think even if cheap driverless Uber were available, the vast majority of drivers would still not take it over their personal car absent a special reason, like expensive parking. Once the car is a sunk cost, the marginal cost of driving it is cheap (even cheaper if the car is electric), so for any given trip, driving your own car will always cost less than hiring a robot to drive you. Remember, all those sensors and computers to control the car cost money, as do the humans oncall to troubleshoot problems, as does profit for whoever owns the robotaxi company.
This means that robotaxis become essentially the same niche service as human-driven Ubers today, which means if you want to be picked up in a suburb, you may have to wait 15-20 minutes for the vehicle to show up, further reducing usage
Robotaxis are also not as useful for spontaneous travel as a frequent bus or train. A transit service that runs often enough, all you have to do is just show up at the stop and get on. And, when you feel like getting off, you get off. You don’t need to mess with phone apps or look up address numbers for places you’ve been to a thousand times. If you see something interesting out the window, you can just get off and check it out. You also don’t end up stuck, without transportation at all, simply because your phone dies or because the saved password into your robotaxi account got lost for some reason. You also know how long the trip is going to take and don’t have to worry about a 10 minute ride turning into a 30 minute ride because some routing algorithm decides to give you the short end of the stick and make you sit through a long detour to pick up another passenger.
All this is not just theoretical. I recall one time I was with a person in Fremont who was headed to South Lake Union. They were all set to order an Uber by default. I pulled up OneBusAway and showed them that the 40 was right around the corner and, furthermore, the Fremont Bridge was up, so traffic would make it physically impossible for an Uber car to arrive before the bus did, regardless of what arrival time the Uber app says. They took the bus instead, saving quite a bit of money and likely some time too.
Public transit also has the nice quality that once a route is running, there is no additional cost to taxpayers for each person that rides it. This means that you can allow everybody to ride it without needing to deal with rationing or income eligibility limits, except for riders wanting a reduced fare. A subsidized Uber, even with driverless cars, you wouldn’t be able to just open it up to everybody without it quickly becoming too expensive. So, you’d have to impose income limits and make people comply with red tape to prove their eligibility. You’d probably also have to ration the subsidized trips, even for people who are eligible, or else you’d have people taking it ridiculously long distances day after day after day. Public services that middle class people can foresee themselves using funding. Public services that are only for poor people don’t. We see this over and over again, for nearly every government provided service imaginable. There is a reason why Medicaid is always short on money in a way that Medicare isn’t. There would be enormous pressure to protect against “welfare queens” using taxpayer money to go to the airport for a trip to Cancun, or even to visit a restaurant with friends, leading to strict rules where only work trips and medical appointments are eligible.
When all is said and done, people will long for their old half hourly buses that they could ride anytime, anywhere, for any reason, without needing to explain or justify when and where they are going.
asdf2, I am not sure your list of horribles is consistent with my experience using Uber. The only negative with Uber I have found is cost (and sometimes the Uber showing up too soon after you call it). The more cost goes down the more Uber becomes a better option (which is why transit advocates and cities try to increase the cost of Uber or limit the number of vehicles).
The big advantages of Uber in my experience are: 1. door to door service; 2. safety; 3. time of trip compared to public transit; 4. no parking; and 5. you can drink alcohol. Cost obviously goes down the more riders you have. I just returned from Phoenix and my brother and I Ubered pretty much everywhere even though we had a car. If for example Uber were free to me I would drive my own car very little.
If your list of horribles for shared rides were true Seattleites would not have ridden 94 million miles in Uber/Lyft in 2017 in 20 million rides.
Ironically according to the anti-Uber expert in the article these 20 million trips mostly came from folks who would otherwise walk, take the bus, or just stay home, which of course the expert thought was something terrible:
“Without public policy intervention, big American cities are likely to be overwhelmed with more automobility, more traffic and less transit,” Schaller wrote, “and drained of the density and diversity which are indispensable to their economic and social well-being.”
What a load of crap. What cities need are customers, and if parking is limited Uber is a way to attract those customers from areas with free parking.
At least in 2017 SDOT understood this:
“A primary goal of urban mobility is to provide enough different mobility choices that people can choose to avoid the high cost of car ownership. Lyft and Uber are a big part of this equation,” said Andrew Glass Hastings, SDOT’s director of transit and mobility. “We have increasing TNC use, but also increasing transit use as well as increasing bike share and car share use.”
Ironically, an Uber spokesperson argued (in 2017) that congestion pricing rather than limits on Uber was the better approach:
“Uber, in combination with mass transit, cycling and walking is building a reliable long-term alternative to car ownership,” Nathan Hambley, an Uber spokesman, said. Hambley said that cities should manage congestion not through caps on TNCs — which Seattle very briefly did and New York City just passed last week — but through broad-based tolling, which Seattle is also looking at.
“Congestion pricing would mean that everyone using Seattle’s roads — whether it’s a personal vehicle, delivery truck, taxi or Uber — pays their fair share to help reduce congestion and improve our public transit system,” Hambley said.”
I guess downtown Seattle does not have to worry about congestion pricing post pandemic.
Uber might not be your preferred mode of transportation, and I agree at this time personal car trips still dominate, but if in 2017 Seattleites took 20 million Uber trips and travelled 94 million miles without any public subsidy that is a big part of the future. Once costs go down because of better shared ride apps or driverless technology Uber will dominate, and Uber is most popular among younger folks.
Folks will go from 2 to 1 cars for things like skiing, but most daily trips in suburbia and urban areas will be by driverless Uber. I think it will be much more cost effective for governments to subsidize this service for poor citizens with discounts for purchasing a massive amount of miles than spend tens of billions on competing mass transit when that mass transit won’t be able to compete except with the truly poor.
Transit is about more than just the very poor. Just last week, for example, I got home from the airport by riding Link to the 255. Taking Uber would have been faster, but would have cost $70 at least. You don’t have to be living in poverty to find it a worthwhile tradeoff to spend an extra 30-45 minutes getting home in exchange for saving $70. In the world of driving, people value their time by far less than this all the time in the form of driving around to I-90 to avoid paying the 520 bridge toll, or driving around Puget Sound to avoid ferry fares.
I know Daniel is going to have a lot to say about today’s Seattle Times article: “Bad light-rail ties on I-90 bridge can’t be fixed, must be rebuilt.”
He might write a lot, but I doubt he’ll say anything that we haven’t already heard a hundred times before.
It isn’t news Sam. I know some on this blog have noted rail plinths are not rocket science and apparently are available off the shelf, so I don’t understand why ST or the designers/contractors first decided to use their own design, and to then try and fix the problem with the plinths with an ad hoc plan.
“Project managers say they first became aware of plinth problems in 2019, such as too much or too little steel rebar near the concrete surfaces, some voids, or plinths not tall enough. They didn’t reveal a schedule crisis until April 2022, after trying adjustments such as mortar patches and surface grinding.”
This quote is from the Seattle Times’ article (some on this blog have questioned me when I posted this fact).
“Sound Transit’s latest timetable is to carry light-rail passengers across the lake by spring 2025. Demolition of the original plinths is nearly complete, and the track rebuilds will expand to six work zones this month, staff reported Thursday in an update to the board.”
This quote is also from Lindblom’s article so I am not sure ST is changing the estimated opening date for East Link although I thought I read in other articles and on blogs the 2025 opening date would likely be extended, again, because now the plinths need to be replaced. I don’t know when ST switched to demolishing the existing plinths with total replacement. Just a few weeks ago the plan was to use mortar for a fix. I don’t know enough about plinths, but some on this blog early on questioned the engineering soundness of this idea (mortar bonding completely with cold concrete). It makes me worry when posters on this blog are more knowledgeable than ST’s engineers and staff.
“Before they can fully serve Lynnwood, transit operators need a finished I-90 crossing, where trains can move from a new Bellevue maintenance base to the University of Washington, Northgate and Lynnwood. Until then, Lynnwood can’t receive the promised capacity of one train every four minutes, transit officials say. The fear of a crowded Lynnwood line creates political momentum to open the so-called Eastside Starter Line first.”
We have discussed this before, and Lindblom makes the odd comment that further delay on East Link might be a benefit because it might lead to a limited segment of East Link from S. Bellevue to Overlake, or even Redmond if that line opens before the I-90 bridge.
I agree with Lazarus that a limited segment East Link makes no sense (with or without the eastside transit restructure), and the opening of Lynnwood Link should not be delayed even if a limited number of trains serve Lynnwood. Lindblom does not explain or apparently question how East Link trains running on the west side would get to the OMF-E if the bridge is closed and only a limited segment East Link is running on the eastside.
Sometimes I think the downside of this blog is I learn everything so much earlier than the press, and so when I read someone like Lindblom who I assume is an expert I think WTF, has he read anything on STB. Lindblom’s comment that “The fear of a crowded Lynnwood line creates political momentum to open the so-called Eastside Starter Line first.” makes no sense to me. How would a starter line on East Link increase frequency for Lynnwood?
The reality is no one cares on the eastside East Link will be delayed further, although we are upzoning for it now. The major stakeholders and cities that had planned upzones and hoped for development at East Link stations were unhappy ST kept them in the dark for 3 years about the delay due to the plinths, and developers were unhappy.
However, today even if East Link were fully operational there would be no development at the stations, certainly not the mixed-use office/residential/retail behemoths that were planned, because there is no financing and investors are seeing low occupancy rates and new projects like Southport defaulting. IMO the stations for East Link will never resemble the grand plans in the upzones, and I don’t think the extra 1 million residents will be moving here over the next 20 years.
I still communicate with folks with ETA (the folks who told me in 2016 DSTT2 would not cost $2.2 billion) and lay engineers who have been involved with running East Link over the floating bridge over the last decade, and their biggest concern remains the ability to run 4 car heavy light rail trains from a fixed bridge deck to a floating span every 8 minutes at 50 mph when the concrete was never tensioned for that kind of vibration and force.
The plinth issue is minor compared to the integrity of the floating bridge — and one would think building rail over dry and basically flat land is not unique — but raises more concerns. God forbid anything compromises the bridge. Running light rail over a floating concrete bridge has never been done before (even with properly tensioned concrete) and some of us on the eastside are not sure ST is the right agency to be the first. Like I said, delaying the opening of East Link is a non-issue on the eastside, but if East Link in any way compromises the I-90 bridge that would be cataclysmic.
I know I have said many times one of the problems or at least issues with East Link on the eastside is eastsiders don’t really see any change or benefit to their lives today from light rail over the buses and are pretty non-chalant about the cost and delay because there is also no downside to Link. Now with the upzoning and maybe bridge integrity we see huge downsides.
If East Link shows ANY compromise of the I-90 bridge’s integrity East Link’s speed won’t be reduced, or the number of trains limited or less frequent, it will be stopped cold going across the bridge, probably forever, because who believes ST anymore, certainly when it comes to a bridge that is the lifeline of Seattle and the eastside.
If you can’t get something like plinths right over four years what are the chances that agency is going to be the first in history to run light rail over a floating and aging concrete bridge that was never tensioned for light rail?
call me nostradamus; I accurately predicted DT would repeat himself for the hundredth time with a thousand wasted words.
From what I hear ST is scheduling tours of the plinth issue for eastside councils, probably due to the blowback of being left in the dark over the plinth issue for three years. From what I also hear what the councils also want to discuss in the safety and integrity of the I-90 bridge from East Link. I think the plinth issue (and maybe FW extension) has re-raised concerns about ST’s “fixes” to allow East Link to run over the bridge. I really can’t imagine less than 9 months testing over I-90 before opening East Link over the bridge to allow trains to run much less frequently and slowly during testing to measure the force and vibration to the concrete.
I really think that DSTT2 should be tabled until trains have been running in the Lake Washington Bridge (2 Line). It’s possible that the line will have problems. Even if that risk is small, it’s still a risk. It may be reduced speeds, reduced frequencies or some other remedy.
It’s unfortunate that East Link isn’t in testing starting now. Everyone needs to be assured how this novel floating bridge light rail works in the long run.
As for macro solutions, a retrofit to be a rubber tired line is to me the obvious solution if there is a problem. It seems easier on a floating bridge if the wheel weights are distributed more widely.
Al, unfortunately the vibration issue across the bridge required ST to build plinths to elevate and isolate the train wheels from the concrete itself. Early testing showed having the rails embedded in the existing concrete would create too much vibration that would vibrate through the rebar and micro-fracture the concrete, including in the pontoons. So the rails were elevated.
The elevated rails preclude any kind of complementary transit in the center roadway such as buses. The plan originally was to have complementary forms of transit (buses) in case there was a need to shut down East Link across the bridge.
However traffic congestion is so light across I-90 today buses don’t even use the HOV lanes because they require a bus to enter I-90, move over four lanes to the HOV lane, and then move back four lanes to exit I-90, in just a few miles.
Today the express buses carry all the riders going from Seattle to the eastside and back without any capacity issue, or really any traffic congestion issue even though running in the general-purpose lanes. Some have suggested to the FHWA that it makes sense to make the HOV lane a general-purpose lane so more cars use it freeing up congestion in the outer lane for buses so they don’t have to move four lanes to the left and then four lanes to the right in a short distance to use the HOV lanes across the bridge.
The FHWA initially approved this idea when the center roadway was closed to general traffic but Seattle objected because it was worried pre-pandemic that traffic congestion from the eastside to downtown Seattle would be so bad the HOV lanes would be necessary, and at that time Seattle was very anti-car. It looks like the pandemic and WFH solved Seattle’s concerns, but there is very little momentum today to do anything about I-90 because there is so little congestion, and if a car wants to use the HOV lane they can because there is no enforcement. I personally think the HOV lane should be made a general-purpose lane at some point, but who cares today.
So, if East Link can’t run in the center roadway nothing else can. But there is plenty of capacity on the east/west/east buses today in the general purpose lanes, and little congestion. If East Link never opens it really would not affect east/west/east transit very much, even if the center roadway remained empty.
> East Link over the floating bridge over the last decade, and their biggest concern remains the ability to run 4 car heavy light rail trains from a fixed bridge deck to a floating span every 8 minutes at 50 mph
If that is the root cause I wonder if running 3-car trains would help from east side.
> However traffic congestion is so light across I-90 today buses don’t even use the HOV lanes because they require a bus to enter I-90, move over four lanes to the HOV lane, and then move back four lanes to exit I-90, in just a few miles.
Are you referring to the mercer island stop (going east bound)? The other parts the 550 bus doesn’t need to switch so many lanes, reaching bellevue way (heading east from mercer island) it is in the hov lane the entire time.
Heading west reaching mercer island also has the hov ramp, though exiting mercer island heading west to Seattle does require moving 4 lanes over. Once on it though for the last part to it only needs to move over 2 lanes not 4 to enter Seattle.
> I personally think the HOV lane should be made a general-purpose lane at some point, but who cares today.
I mean the problem is that if you convert it to a general purpose lane it is incredibly hard to convert it back to a HOV lane when it is actually needed when traffic is high.
Doesn’t bode well for the competence of DSTT2 and its financial solvency. If Sound Transit were smart it would start pivoting away from DSTT2 and work on more interlining options and do Ballard stub separately. You don’t go from one massive boondoggle to an even bigger one.
The plinth issue has nothing to do with DSLRT2, it is the result of the contractor not building the specified design.
There is a common phrase in the construction industry that describes this problem. The phrase starts with the letter “F” and ends with the word “Up”.
There was little new information in the Seattle Times article. We already knew that the original recovery method had failed and that they had moved on to “R and R” (Remove and Replace). We also knew that they were behind schedule.
The info on the nylon fasteners was new however. Last I heard some of the fasteners had simply been stripped during installation. Now it sounds like a design flaw, at least if you can believe the reporting in this article.
But as Reagan told Gorby, “Trust, but verify”. I’m going to wait for better info before passing judgement.
Lazarus, if East Link over I-90 proves to be not just a construction f’up but actually impossible with rails, then it would have huge implications for DSTT2. We wouldn’t need DSTT2 at all. If we find that this line needs to be running on rubber tires, then it completely changes the rationale for DSTT2.
I think it is highly unlikely the ST2 projects will be cancelled. ST3 is another matter. It is quite possible that extra costs for ST2 cause ST3 to cancel many of its projects. It is highly likely they build East Link, Federal Way Link and Lynnwood Link, along with some infill stations (that were actually party of ST3).
I agree Ross. Effectively ST 2 except FW Link is built. In fact it looks like Redmond Link will be completed by the time East Link opens.
I think it is important ST open SOMETHING. That is Lynnwood Link because I think those cities NEED Link. The Eastside does not need Link.
I don’t know the particulars about where to store or turn around the trains. I also don’t think it would be the worst optics if some parts of Link are crowded when Lynnwood Link opens. ST needs a win. FW and East Link won’t be wins. WSBLE definitely won’t be a win except a tunnel to SLU but that is long off.
I also think Lynnwood Link will give Pierce Co. hope.
Personally I think Lynnwood is the last effective part of Link but it will get built to Tacoma Dome and Everett (ideally in a straight line) mostly for political reasons so get Lynnwood open. I fully expect E KC to cover the shortfalls in funding but that is the great thing about having the subarea with all the money ambivalent about Link and transit. Our Nextdoors are very quiet about the new issues and delay with East Link except most thinking that is good (bad Seattle) but man eastsiders are worked up about upzoning which is why those bills are dying one by one.
I don’t think WSBLE will be built as planned but that is a whole other issue.
You just can’t build Link that has such a high dollar per rider mile.
Except I guess Issaquah Link.
To paraphrase Sam, “Nobody rides Link anymore, it’s too crowded.”
Overcrowding would be something different for ST, and it could maybe improve its reputation by making it obvious that people do ride Link. Not that that would stop the people on Nextdoor from saying people don’t, since they don’t see it. The first bit of overcrowding would be slight, and in the afternoon peak. Metro could alleviate it by reinstating the 41, and maybe extending the 301 to the U-District (Shoreline – Northgate – U-District), as alternatives.
ST has made some pretty awful mistakes.
1. The decision to put the Point Defiance Bypass into operation without positive train control, which was specifically required by the Federal Railroad Administration due to a dangerous curve, tops this list.
2. The deal where dozens of light rail cars were damaged because a contractor failed to cut off the bolt ends on track mounting clips, and SoundTransit failed to heed the warnings of maintenance workers.
3. This plinth issue.
4. Escalator maintenance.
5. The floating bridge. I get that it’s a complex problem. When TriMet had a complex problem with the West Hills tunnel (nobody had tried a tunneling machine in that type of rock before), they did brainstorming with experts from all over the world. Is that happening here? I can’t tell, but it seems like ST’s management structure is a lot more along the lines of “let the contractor deal with it; they’ll figure it out” rather than “Oh, this is a lot bigger problem than any of us realized. We need to get some additional help for you people because we know you’re struggling with this. Here, let’s get this world renowned Italian guy in here.”
I really think there are systemic issues in the way the organization is structured to produce these types of problems.
I can’t make suggestions on how to change that as I have no insight into the structure of the organization,. However, if “the past is prologue” then the future has many red flags. It leads me to have a lot of concerns about what may happen with any of these lines.
6. Direction of Initial Segment. Priority to go south from DT first.
7. First Hill, First Hill, First Hill omission
I feel like soneone from SoundTransit needs to visit Atlanta. Specifically they need to visit the very deep Peachtree Center Marta station.
When I was there, even during rush hour, there were only about 20 people on the platform.
Unlike Westlake II, it’s uses its depth to reach long escalators in a bunch of directions.
I feel like that’s the future Link riders will be looking forward to.
I’ve never been to Atlanta, so I don’t know that much about Marta. From what I can tell, it not that bad, but not that great either. It doesn’t go way too far outside the city, the way that BART, DART and we will. Some effort was made to serve some of the destinations in the city, unlike DART. It is well integrated with the buses, which is more than I can say for ST. But it seems to spend way too much effort going outside the core, and not serving what little core there is. Atlanta sprawls — there aren’t that many high density areas. But the train doesn’t seem to cover what little there is.
Maybe I’m wrong. Like I said, I’ve never been there, and there is only so much to glean online.
The biggest problem with MARTA is some suburban counties voted it down, because the “rail will bring black and poor people to our neighborhood” is stronger there. MARTA itself is fine: it runs frequently and serves a few parts of the city. The biggest problem with the Atlanta area’s transit overall is an underdeveloped bus network, especially in the suburbs, where buses can run hourly and end at 7pm.
The interesting thing about that suburban thing is it’s backfired on the suburbs. Atlanta reminds me a lot of where the northwest was in the 1990s, with a huge amount of suburban people abandoning those suburbs and moving into the city. I rode bus route 50 through an area that was reminiscent of the worst stuff you hear about Detroit, with some blocks redeveloped into condos selling for $750,000 (which is a lot for the south). Absolutely it’s gentrification at a rapid clip, but if people with money decide a formerly undesirable area is now desirable, I’m not sure what can be done.
There’s a lot about MARTA that Link seems to be trying to emulate. The “next train arriving in 2 minutes” warning is something they have, using the exact same voice.
I think some of their stations have vastly better integration with buses. As sn example, the Bankhead station has a bus pull-out loop like so many Lynnwood Link stations, but it’s just slightly off the road so not quite as long an out of the way diversion as, say, 130th looks like it will be. North Avenue is another with a bus loop, but located in the downtown area. Not sure that is really necessary but it does combine layover space with transfer space.
Some of the suburban buses are nuts. The suburban districts use these things that look like rock band tour buses with really dark tinted windows.
It’s rather nuts that you can use their Breeze transit card on far-flung suburban buses, but the Atlanta streetcar isn’t included, except you can use the Breeze card to buy a paper ticket from your card balance.
Glenn, are you talking about Buckhead? There is a lot of real estate speculation on the assumption Buckhead will be allowed to secede from Atlanta.
I have never understood why the rest of Atlanta opposes Buckhead seceding from Atlanta. I wonder if some Seattle neighborhoods should be given the opportunity to incorporate as their own cities. After all, look how small Beaux Arts, Hunts Point, Clyde Hill, and Yarrow Point are and they are doing well and people obviously want to live there based on property values.
Why make normal people who still live in Seattle live with the crazies and deadbeats. I bet the CID and Black communities in S Seattle would secede if allowed.
BTW Windows are tinted in Hotlanta due to the heat, not the suburbs.
Thought I would end the week with a little levity. My father was 1/2 owner of the Knarr tavern in the UW for many years, and bartended there while going to law school in the 1950’s after tours in the Marine Corps. in WWII and Korea with my mom pregnant with their third child. He had long sold his interest when I went to UW in the 1980’s, but I still got a kick going in there because it had changed so little.
Seattle used to have a lot of dive bars but fewer today because I think there is so much more money. Any dive bars that folks on this blog want to add to the list?
I lived a half block from the Knarr from 1989 to 2003. I didn’t go there much but I did go to the Galway Arms, an Irish pub on 55th. I went there on Saturday evenings with a couple who worked at the Vogue and others, and then we all went to the Vogue afterward. I was a skinhead listening to punk and ska and industrial. The Galway Arms has a new name now, the Kraken. I’ve never been in the Kraken. A couple months ago I read a Times article ($) that said the Kraken had just closed and it was “a decade-plus stronghold for punk music”. Sounds like a place for me, but I had no idea it was doing that, so I missed it. When I was going to the Galway Arms it only had occasional Irish music. I’ve also read recently that the Knarr was punkish, but it didn’t seem to me that when I was living there. So maybe I missed that too.
The Vogue was mostly goth, with industrial Fridays and 80s Saturdays, and we put together a ska Mondays that ten people attended and lasted for a month. The other places I went were the Off-Ramp (then Graceland, now El Corazon), something that is now the Funhouse (it had another name I’ve forgotten, and was next to Seattle Center), the Fenix (now gone), RKCNDY (now gone), and Moe’s (now Neumos).
Re transit, I’d leave the Vogue when it closed and take the last 71 at Denny & Fairview at 1:45pm, or the first 83 night owl at 2:15pm 4th & Union back to the U-District.
Your father may know my roommate Quinn, who went to the Knarr a lot in the 90s. He was a prep cook; I think he worked at the Galway Arms if I remember.
With the Madison Wisconsin Brt underway checked out their plan https://www.cityofmadison.com/metro/routes-schedules/bus-rapid-transit/project-details
For an east west brt being the main one. They are even more constrained than Seattle but it is interesting to see the similar hourglass shape with all funneling into one route than splitting out.
It is funny to see how a bus that runs every 15 minutes (sometimes in mixed traffic) gets called BRT. I’m guessing it is all about funding. If you call it “BRT”, the federal government will chip in some money. If you run the bus a bit more often, or add some bus lanes, they won’t. Overall, it looks good (although I don’t know Madison very well).
If I understand the map right, the buses form a spine. They all run along the same corridor through part of town.
The more impressive thing is the quite substantial (especially by USA standards) bus lanes.
> If you call it “BRT”, the federal government will chip in some money. If you run the bus a bit more often, or add some bus lanes, they won’t.
The federal government has thankfully started actually requiring bus lanes to qualify for more money.
Here’s a separate map showing their future expansion routes (going north-south) and another route to Middleton
Kenmore Councilmember Baker giving Harrell shit for not up-zoning around 130th.
He’s not wrong.
A lot of cities are waiting for King County’s subcommittee on affordable housing to formally recommend to the council its recommendation under last year’s ESB 1220, and final decisions on this year’s decisions on HB 1110 before updating their comp. plans. Harrell can’t just waive a wand to upzone an area and Baker should understand this.
Does anyone know the upzoning Baker wants and the current zoning. Under Seattle’s 2017 upzoning SFH lots near the station can have three separate dwellings. Under 1110 they can have four, or six if two are affordable (which means four).
Baker is naive if he thinks true multi-family housing — apartment projects — can get financing in this market, and those need large lots. If he is simply carrying water for builders and realtors he may be disappointed how many units will require 60% AMI housing, not the old phony 80% AMI which is really 100% for 130th. Unless some of the surrounding SFH lots are huge we are talking about “plexes”.
Again what do the residents and neighbors want. Harrell won 65% of the SFH vote against an opponent who promised “to abolish SFH zoning”. Harrell doesn’t care what Baker wants. Or Baker can run for mayor. Harrell doesn’t even care about transit, except when it turns 3rd Ave. into a wasteland. Harrell’s voters told him to fix downtown and leave the neighborhoods alone. Right now Harrell has an approval rating over 60%.
Considering vacancy rates are rising in Seattle and population growth looking flat and cuts to major employers like Amazon and very high borrowing rates Baker could be waiting for a long time before builders start building hoping like every neighborhood north of Northgate to Lynnwood that they will become the next Totem Lake “of the north”. (Link to the south doesn’t seem to have this delusion).
I think Baler still thinks zoning means financing means construction, so he must be a progressive, or one of the last to think TOD along a freeway will manufacture the ridership to approximate ST’s estimates. What we do know is if market rate the new housing won’t be remotely affordable.
The former mayor of Kenmore should know better. Why did they build the 148th Station? To serve Kenmore. (And, to a lesser extent Lake Forest Park, Bothell, and parts of Shoreline). Very few people will walk to that station. It is really silly treat it like a major station, given the location, and the fact that it will have this gigantic parking garage. Capitol Hill it isn’t.
Like 130th, it is a feeder station. Both stations were designed to connect to buses. Just look at the areas. They lie directly adjacent to the freeway. This is the worst possible place to put a station if you are interested in walk-up riders. Draw a little circle around the station (actually a diamond) with walk-up distance, and much of it is taken up by the freeway itself. The walk to the station will not be pleasant from most directions. Not only because of freeway noise, but because streets like 145th and 130th are busy (although 145th is worse). Then there is parkland. In both cases, significant amount of space is used by greenbelts or parks. Only a very tiny sliver of land could ever house very many people, unless they built giant towers (which they won’t do).
But that doesn’t really matter. Any walk-up ridership is a bonus. Put it this way. Imagine they don’t build the parking garage for 148th, and don’t run buses along 145th. Is 148th Station worth it, because of all this TOD? Of course not. It would have the lowest ridership of any station in our system. Or imagine the opposite. Do you really think the former mayor of Kenmore would be proposing a delay of 148th Station if Shoreline hadn’t changed their zoning? Please. They want the buses to go there (and they want people to park there).
Same thing with 130th. It is all about crossing bus service. Yes, Seattle is dragging its feet with zoning. What else is new. You could say the same thing about every city in the region. Kenmore hasn’t done much (if any) upzoning around the S3 — by far the biggest investment in transit in the city. Nor have they made widespread zoning changes. Nor has Seattle. Seattle really needs to make more widespread zoning changes, instead of focusing on a handful of areas. If you look at where the ridership of the 130th Station will come from, the area is zoned much higher than average for the city (which has much higher density than the suburbs). But there are still gaps, as well as development that is only along the busy street, instead of extending outward, like Capitol Hill or Ballard. Bitter Lake, Pinehurst and Lake City have density, but various spots along the way don’t. Not only is it zoned single family, but the lots are huge. If anything, that is a bigger issue. Developers have moved towards building triplexes, even though they are officially a house, an ADU and a DADU. They do so because of the regulations (it is allowed, and there is no design review). But with lots of over 10,000 feet common, and lot size minimums at 7,200, there is only so much density that can be added.
This is where the people will come from. The bus catchment area for 130th is huge. The area within walking distance is tiny.
Oh, and speaking of upzoning, consider Northgate. The station has been operating for quite some time, and upzoning has made no difference whatsoever. The area around it largely parking lots. The mall is a shell of its former self, and back then it was, well, a mall (not exactly a transit oriented development). There is a long walking bridge to the college, and a handful of offices and clinics nearby, but it is was one of the most desolate stations in our entire system (https://goo.gl/maps/DNhB3uzrSQDjMSaFA).
And yet it has more ridership than any other station! Yes, of course some of that is the park and ride, but most of it is bus feeders. There are 27 buses that serve it. The buses come so often that they are pushed out into four separate bays. Each bay is big enough to serve several buses, allowing buses to pass other buses. This is where the ridership comes from.
The idea that you need to have development around a station before you actually build it is absurd, and Northgate has proven that.
Just to be clear, I know that the area around the Northgate station will eventually have growth. But it will take time, and the timing on the zoning changes probably made no difference at all.
To actually build denser housing you have to have someone willing to sell. Everyone around the 130th station knows there is a very good chance that the area will be upzoned. No one is buying a house, and then tearing it down to build another house; no one is subdividing their big lot to get a few more houses. This is happening a mile away, but not there. Any developer is keeping an eye on the process, waiting for the new regulations. This means that whenever the zoning changes do come, development will come soon after. It means this delay isn’t really changing things.
Where it matters is in the rest of the city (including areas a mile away). For example, this house: https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/12049-20th-Ave-NE-98125/home/171917349. This is one of three that came from splitting up a 25,000 square foot lot. Since lot sizes have to be 7,200 or more, they couldn’t build any more houses. So you have three houses, where you could easily have a couple dozen townhouses, or a small apartment building with thirty big units, neither of which would be taller than those houses. This is not within easy walking distance to the station, but it is within easy walking distance of the future connecting bus. But the bus will do more than connect people to Link, it will go to Lake City and Bitter Lake, which means that if you live there, you could pretty much do anything without a car. But the developers didn’t want to wait around for the city (or the state) to finally legalize middle class housing. They just built as much housing as they could build, which meant three houses. In this market (where housing is extremely expensive because of the regulations) they knew that any house — even a small one — would likely go for over 700K. Might as well build them big (which they did) and sell them over for over a million.
This is what is being lost while the city dithers. There is no way those houses will be replaced by apartments in my lifetime. It is a wasted opportunity to build what could easily be considered “TOD”, even though no one living there would walk to the station. More importantly, it is a wasted opportunity to build more affordable housing. If you want to know why we have so many homeless in Seattle, looking at developments like that are a good place to start.
Ross, how would you respond to the idea that bus transfers to 130th are being exaggerated? That many Aurora area residents will opt for the E Line. Shoreline/148th station will attract north Lake City residents, and Northgate station will attract south Lake City residents. Leaving 130th station with less bus transfers than thought.
Today the Seattle Times’ article I linked to yesterday about Harrell’s plans to revitalize downtown Seattle is the front-page lead in the hard copy. I think Northgate Mall could have a big impact on Harrell’s plans, and not in a good way.
Basically, Northgate is upstream of downtown Seattle. It draws from the U Dist. to Lynnwood. It will have massive parking on I-5 when congestion is light today, and a major Link station.
If Northgate Mall is anything like U Village (which has none of the advantages Northgate has when it comes to access except lots of parking, but has the high end eastside customer), and is a vibrant, safe, pleasant outdoor mall, it will draw all the customers Harrell and the DSA want to go downtown because Northgate won’t have a dead 3rd Ave., all the street issues, and years of articles in The Seattle Times and on Nextdoors about how dangerous downtown Seattle is. Why would anyone north of Northgate bypass Northgate Mall to shop in downtown Seattle if Northgate Mall turns out well?
One thing I try to point out about zoning is there is only so much retail an area or population can afford, and if you don’t condense the zoning and retail you will never have retail density, which is the key to retail and walkability. The demise of downtown has only accelerated that dispersement throughout the city. In a world of WFH a downtown must have a vibrant retail core that is safe with easy access or it has no hope. Harrell’s entire design of addressing crime and homelessness and drugs is to revitalize the retail downtown because safe and walkable streets come first (and even then don’t guarantee a vibrant retail area).
Malls today from Southcenter to Bell Sq. to U Village are packed. The retail and restaurants are dense, and there is a sense of safety (although Southcenter is sketchy). My suggestion has been for Harrell to adopt Rice’s plan from the early 1990’s and create a U Village type walkable mall from the Convention Center to Pike Place Market to the waterfront park, and forget about doomed causes like 3rd Ave., but first he has to deal with the drugs, crime and street issues which he is trying to do to his credit (although some on this blog don’t see the problems), while Northgate Mall won’t have any of those issues because Simon Properties is not what you would call a progressive owner.
U Village is tough enough for downtown to compete with. If Northgate is anything like U Village I think Harrell has an uphill road to revitalize downtown retail even if he does clean up the streets.
Ross, how would you respond to the idea that bus transfers to 130th are being exaggerated? That many Aurora area residents will opt for the E Line. Shoreline/148th station will attract north Lake City residents, and Northgate station will attract south Lake City residents. Leaving 130th station with less bus transfers than thought.
I would respond by saying Pshaw! Then I would wave my hands, in a dismissive manner.
Seriously though, the station will get lots of riders. The E Line will remain popular for going downtown, as will the 5. But Link does more than go downtown. It serves the second biggest destination in the region: the UW. Capitol Hill is also very popular. Likewise, neither Roosevelt nor Northgate are huge destinations, but they are significant. If you are headed south of downtown (or even the south end of downtown) it makes sense to ride Link. Rainier Valley and the airport aren’t hugely popular, but they still have plenty of riders from the north end. Three seat rides are relatively common, and would likely save you some time. For example, if I commuted to the V. A. from Bitter Lake, I would probably use Link now. Google sends me on the E, then Link, then a bus. When Link gets to 130th, I would be much better off getting to Link sooner, rather than later. A lot of these trips seems minor (and they are) but it all adds up.
This will be a huge change for Bitter Lake. Lake City will have other options, but this will be far the fastest one. Yes, if you are really far north or south, it makes no sense. But there are plenty of people for which a bus along 125th/130th would be much faster than an alternative. I’m not sure if people realize that. 130th is a very good east-west road. It isn’t nearly as congested as 145th. Getting to Northgate is a challenge, even when there is no congestion. There are just too many turns.
A lot depends on where the bus goes, but at this point, it looks like they will send the 65 across, and then up Greenwood, wrapping around at 143th and Linden. There are several good things about this. First, the 65 should prove to be very popular. It already does fairly well, but as the main east-west bus connecting Bitter Lake and Lake City, it would get a lot of riders even if there was no Link station. Because of this, I expect headways to be good, especially since it should respond well to increased frequency.
The wrap-around to Linden extends the catchment area quite a bit. It is a bit awkward to loop around, but waiting by a park (here: https://goo.gl/maps/WUCLatwvpnYuR5YN7) is just a lot more pleasant than waiting on Aurora (and a lot of people wait on Aurora). There are a ton of apartments in that neck of the woods, and more are being built. Likewise, serving parts of Greenwood also helps. Folks have alternatives for getting downtown, but it wouldn’t surprise me if many prefer taking the bus and then transferring to Link. But again, it will be mostly about destinations that are not downtown, which is to say, most of the Link destinations.
“how would you respond to the idea that bus transfers to 130th are being exaggerated?”
Only people who don’t know what they’re talking about are saying that. It may take twenty or thirty years for the number of riders to reach its maximum, but 130th Station is what makes it possible. It doesn’t guarantee it, but without it you won’t have it.
“That many Aurora area residents will opt for the E Line.”
We knew that from the beginning. This gives them an express alternative. It will make sense for some trips but not for others, and different people will have different thresholds for using it. If you’re going from 130th & Aurora to Westlake, the E takes around 30 minutes, and Link will take 17 plus the bus transfer. So that may be a wash. But if you’re going from 130th & Aurora to the U-District, Northgate, Roosevelt, Capitol Hill, downtown Luynnwood, Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, the airport, or the Eastside, Link will be much faster than a trip involving the E. And if you’re in eastern Bitter Lake, there’s additional overhead in getting to Aurora, and less overhead in getting to Link.
“Shoreline/148th station will attract north Lake City residents,”
“Northgate station will attract south Lake City residents.”
Only if by south Lake City you mean 110th or 95th. Near 125th a bus to 130th Station will be significantly shorter and faster than meandering down to Northgate and going through the Northgate congestion. That’s the reason we’re puhsing for 130th Station in the first place. Because taking a bus to Northgate makes the trip mediocre and prevents Lake City from having a low-overhead way of getting to/from it.
It looks like this is the current plan https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/OPCD/OngoingInitiatives/NE130thAnd145thStationAreaPlanning/130_145_Alternatives__2022_1202.pdf#page=7
Though honestly looks a bit of a disappointingly small upzoning both in height and area for a light rail station.
I saw that happen live as had I tuned into the committee meeting last week. Both board members were connected remotely. Too bad. I have to wonder if such a “challenge” would have occurred if both members had actually been in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom together.
Frankly, I got the impression that member Baker doesn’t support the infill station anyway, and he clearly doesn’t understand its purpose with regard to the local bus network, based on the comments he gave.
That’s great context, tlsgwm. Appreciated.
Yes, the crosstown route from Bitterlake and Lake City is the huge. But that’s a yes, and.
That area is a low-density wasteland, and I-5 isn’t doing the station placement any favors, but there is huge potential for turning that area around with the proper zoning and discounting the selfish, myopic and short-sighted whines of those currently living there.
I used to live close, and I know there is a massive community of super low-income immigrant families that have no real outlet for their kids to do anything after school. There isn’t a park of any size to be seen in the NE quadrant until you get way down south to 105th, past Hale. That golf course is a disgrace, and a relic of the 50s, before Seattle incorporated that area. It absolutely needs to be turned into a usable park for the kids in the NE. It could be a clean slate for a huge project including thousands of desperately needed mixed-income units as well as a community center and park space. Really what ever the community tells you it needs. Think Eastbridge and Greenbridge on steroids, with 2 link stations with 20 minute downtown runs walking distance.
The decaying ramblers in the large single family lots would make the current owners wealthy if they were up-zoned to whatever the market will bear. And the market would salivate to drop 5 to 10 story multi-family projects all over those lots in the medium term. If that zoning had happened 5 years ago, they would already be being built.
The “suburbs” of Kenmore, Bothell and Shoreline are embarrassing “progressive” Seattle with their enlightened zoning. Harrell should have a fire lit under him to catch up. Instead he appears captured by the single family do-nothing NIMBYs.
I have no doubt that it is not what you meant, but following “discounting the selfish, myopic and short-sighted whines of those currently living there” with “I know there is a massive community of super low-income immigrant families that …” suggests that the super low-income immigrant families are the selfish, myopic, and the short-sighted whining ones, which of course is pretty patronizing if it _is_ what you meant (but I’m sure it is not).
Not that the alternate is any better, given what follows. Presumably, the selfish, myopic, and short-sighted are the owners of the “decaying ramblers in the large single family lots”. Decaying ramblers are hardly a sign of high income, and the observation you made that changing the zoning “would make the current owners wealthy” suggests that you, too, believe that they are not rich. It also suggests that you believe that they value something other than money, which hardly makes them “selfish” in the traditional American sense (money above all). And so that still seems patronizing, just towards a different community.
I apologize if I am splitting hairs, but the way the point was phrased seemed more like a rant and less like a path towards making a constructive argument towards those who seem to oppose the direction you would like them to go, and I was hoping that I might perhaps encourage you to rephrase it in a more constructive way that all of us here can get behind.
Thanks in advance.
To clarify, the low-income immigrant families I knew primarily lived in multi-family apartments around Lake City.
Many old neighbors I was thinking of who expressed short-sighted resistance to up-zoning lived in low-end construction ramblers. As did I.
I have no idea what path to change you are referring to. I’ve talked to people high up in city government about this, and they told be there was no way in hell they were repurposing Jackson Park. They built a new clubhouse in the last decade and it’s a money maker for the city.
This is a low-readership comment section on a fading blog. Sometimes a rant is just a rant.
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Northacres Park is to the SW across the freeway.
“Why don’t you go out and play, Junior?” Just walk for an hour, then cross this:”
Exactly! That is what that neighborhood is like. Pretty bad.
But there is a large park to the SW, and there is Thornton Creek Park directly to the east. Both are only about 1000 ft from the station and located in their respective neighborhoods.
Both sides of the freeway deserve descent parks, and most people in Pinehurst drive anyway because of the horrible sidewalk situation. So if they want to take the kids to the spray park at Northacres, no big deal. They drive the kids. They have no other real option.
Additionally there are two parks near Lake City. One next to the library and one just west of Dicks. And there is that a Hubbards Homestead Park to the south with its skateboard thing for the hooligans.
So not bad really. And if you think there should be one closer to the center of Pinehurst, then good luck! I think converting housing to parkland will be a hard sell.
I think it is important to understand that under current zoning each of those older SFH lots in Lake City Way can be redeveloped with three separate dwellings. Under HB 1110 each SFH lot can have four market rate units, or 6 units if two are 60% AMI, which is a bit of a fraud because since the total GFAR is fixed for each lot no builder is going to take GFA from the four market rate units to create two 60% AMI units. Do four market rate units v
The idea five or six story buildings could be constructed on one of these smallish SFH lots is unrealistic, and I would be surprised if any builder could get financing for such a project in this market, especially if this neighborhood if it is as blighted as Cam states, and under HB 1110 builders could shift that development to expensive and high end Eastside development instead. Remember, builders are doing this for a profit and lean hard right.
There are some downsides however:
1. The new construction will be much more expensive than the older SFH it replaces. It is called gentrification. Those immigrant families won’t be living in those new units, which is why they live in this neighborhood to begin with.
2. The key word is immigrant FAMILIES. Although so many white progressive Seattleites live alone, immigrants came here for a better life for their kids. Al has pointed this out many times in S. Seattle. Immigrants live in old SFH because they have kids and several generations living together and the old SFH is the most affordable housing per resident. Or you could end up creating another Columbia City.
3. Like me and so many kids we grew up playing in our back yards. Football, baseball, basketball, our parents liked it because we could get outside but they knew we were safe. If there is little public park space which many parents find dangerous for unsupervised kids and you develop all the back yards out of existence you turn the area into a concrete jungle, like housing projects.
The first rule in rezoning is do no harm. That means truly understanding the area and the residents who are clearly different than you and can speak for themselves. It also means you MUST understand the new market rate construction will not be affordable, and if you get enough of it you will gentrify the neighborhood (with people who drive) and displace the current low income residents.
Frankly, I got the impression that member Baker doesn’t support the infill station anyway, and he clearly doesn’t understand its purpose with regard to the local bus network, based on the comments he gave.
Either that, or he is simply playing politics. Maybe he knows perfectly well while the station is being built (Hint: it is the same reason that 148th is being built, and why S3 is being built) but he wants to focus on a largely irrelevant fact to delay the opening, so that money can be pushed to other projects (like S3).
there is huge potential for turning that area around with the proper zoning and discounting the selfish, myopic and short-sighted whines of those currently living there.
Citation please! Seriously, I attended numerous meetings leading up to the 130th Station being approved (and then sped up). There was very little objection to upzoning. This is the great irony of zoning in Seattle. If you walk around Wallingford, you can tell people love their houses. They have money, and put it into making them look very nice. Many hate the idea of seeing houses replaced by apartments. In contrast, if you walk around that particular part of Pinehurst (close to the station) it is not that different than the rest of Pinehurst (or Victory Heights, or Northgate, or any of the other surrounding neighborhoods). It is middle class housing, where folks aren’t that obsessed with what their neighbors house looks like. Not that long ago, most of the houses had cars parked on the lawn. Hell, they don’t even have sidewalks! This is not a fancy neighborhood, and whatever character it did have is going away very quickly anyway. The old farm houses (which essentially defined the area) are being replaced by giant houses — completely out of character for what was a more middle class neighborhood. The apartments and condos are actually more in character with the neighborhood, as they are more middle class. I just don’t see any great resistance to upzoning.
Or consider who represents the area. Juarez is not anti-development. Quite the contrary. But she did run against an anti-development candidate last time, and crushed her.
There really isn’t a strong anti-development movement here. There are folks who want to preserve the existing trees, but even they are largely a fringe group. The main reason they haven’t changed the zoning is just inertia. It is just one of those things they haven’t gotten around to.
It isn’t just the zoning. As folks on Twitter have explained, the same thing is true for the improvements that are supposed to come with the station. There are a lot of really good ideas here: https://www.seattle.gov/opcd/ongoing-initiatives/ne-130th-145th-multimodal-access-plan. Some of them have variations, and require decisions. Most of that hasn’t been decided. The actually projects that they will build (e. g. https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/pedestrian-program/pinehurst-way-ne-and-ne-117th-st-intersection-and-sidewalk-project) haven’t been built yet (despite them saying they could start last December).
Part of it the change of administration, but part of it is that the city just moves slowly.
Another thing to keep in mind with rezoning is it isn’t a magic wand that magically transforms a neighborhood. Look at Minneapolis. What’s changed since the did away with single family zoning? Almost nothing has.
There isn’t a park of any size to be seen in the NE quadrant until you get way down south to 105th, past Hale. That golf course is a disgrace, and a relic of the 50s, before Seattle incorporated that area. It absolutely needs to be turned into a usable park for the kids in the NE. It could be a clean slate for a huge project including thousands of desperately needed mixed-income units as well as a community center and park space.
That is not true. There are parks, it is just that they are relatively small. Some of these parks are relatively new, so they may not have been there when you lived in the neighborhood. Hubbard Homestead Park (which has a skatepark) is fairly new, on Fifth. Virgil Flaim park is in Lake City, which also added a small park on 33rd (https://goo.gl/maps/8LnVMszrv6F6AVGj6). There are others (Pinehurst, Victory Heights, Cedar, Little Brook, etc.) many of which have gotten a bit nicer over the years.
But most of them are small. These parks are OK for folks nearby, but not the type that lend themselves to long walks. Even Meadowbrook (by Hale, I assume the park you were referencing) isn’t that big (although there is a lot of waterfowl). The same problem exists as you go further west. Between Aurora and I-5, you have Northacres, and that is about it, between 105th and 145th. You have some playgrounds at the schools, and Haller Lake itself, but the latter is only attractive when it is really hot out.
All of this makes the golf course very frustrating. They have done some work around it, but it is still poor. There are a few woods, but a lot of the trails don’t go through. Oh, and the golf course doesn’t make money. The driving range does, but not the course. I understand why people want to add housing there, but that is unrealistic. The city should just convert it to a normal park. Keep the driving range and turn the clubhouse into more of a community center. Add some playgrounds near that part of the park. The rest of it should be converted to parkland. Replace a lot of the open lawn with trees (which would make the tree advocates happy). Open it up on every side, so that people can walk through it. This is unacceptable: https://goo.gl/maps/MTWrkjmb1pEx4ghU6. You shouldn’t be forced to walk way out of your way, on really unpleasant streets, just to go north. So is this: https://goo.gl/maps/dyemYCc3Mj8Z9oQ28. Even on a really nice day, no one is going to walk to the station — it is just too unpleasant.
Good urbanism is not just about upzoning and adding apartments. It is about making it easier and nicer to walk to your destination, and creating shared amenities that we can all enjoy, like a nice big park.
“The first rule in rezoning is do no harm.”
Really? I have never heard that maxim before applied to zoning changes. What sort of “harm” are you talking about? Of course residential displacement is something to be concerned about and I think most folks who have thought about this topic for more than five minutes happily acknowledge that. But thousands of housing units are needed as well and the area needs to figure out how to accommodate them without “putting people into the woods” as my mom used to say.
Housing affordability is a very difficult problem to get under control because there are so many forces in play, many of which have been operating as an obstacle to affordable housing for decades. I’ve read a fair number of the studies on the interplay between zoning regulations, housing supply and affordability, and displacement but by no means would I claim the same level of authority on the subject matter as you seem to do in many of your comments. Most of the studies’ findings I’ve read have been very nuanced and even murky at times, calling for further investigation. For example, the author of the more recent Chicago study has repeatedly stated that his findings are being misinterpreted. With all of that said, I do think we need to make serious efforts on the supply side of the equation rather than waiting for a mass exodus from our current population. The hole we’ve dug ourselves into is pretty darn big.
Btw, not all developers are the same. My spouse works for a developer/residential builder and several of the partners actually agree with this NY liberal on a whole host of topics. Imagine that!
Both sides of the freeway deserve descent parks, and most people in Pinehurst drive anyway because of the horrible sidewalk situation. So if they want to take the kids to the spray park at Northacres, no big deal. They drive the kids. They have no other real option.
Complete nonsense. People walk to parks in Pinehurst. Get real.
And if you think there should be one closer to the center of Pinehurst, then good luck!
There is! It is literally called Pinehurst Playground. It has a playground, but also a big ball field. https://goo.gl/maps/2NV34AAXspF8zLpH7. This is a good size urban park, and it is very close to the center of Pinehurst — much closer to the center than the station will be. By just about every definition, the station is right on the edge of Pinehurst, with the Haller Lake neighborhood to the west (http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/nmaps/html/NN-1030S.htm). Like every neighborhood, there is no official boundary, but Pinehurst Pub, Pinehurst Playground and Pinehurst Pocket Park are all rather close to each other, and most of the people who live anywhere around there would say that is more or less the center. If I had to pick a spot that was the center of Pinehurst, I would probably go with the pub. From 15th and 125th you are close to the various Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants, the great taco truck across from the laundromat and the various restaurants that share the same block as Zylberschtein’s. It is a short walk north to Safeway, or south to Hazel Wolf. It is close to the various shops on 15th, Pinehurst and Roosevelt Way. You aren’t that far from the Eritrean Church, the mosque, or numerous other churches that make up the area.
I really don’t understand how people speak so confidently about an area while obviously spending very little time even looking at a map, let alone walking around there.
You really have it backwards. The main reason someone from Pinehurst would visit Northacres Park is to take their dogs to the dog park or play in the water. Otherwise, they walk to a closer park. If they drive to Northacres, it is because crossing the freeway is so damn unpleasant. Which is why building stations next to the freeway is a really bad idea. Yet Sound Transit did that with every station north of 65th. Oh sure, some are a bit better than others, but Northgate, for example, is right up against the freeway. It is not an outlier, that is just the approach that Sound Transit decided to take. Pretending that a few new apartment buildings close to any of the stations somehow represents good urbanism is nonsense. It represents the same failed policies that put apartments next to Aurora, and houses on big lots a couple blocks away. It treats apartments like a smoke-belching factory — might as well put them in unpleasant areas. It is the very epitome of NIMBYism, but applied to a place where people actually live.
But we are stuck with the alignment. Might as well make the best of things. Put stations on the crossing streets, because that is where you will get most of your ridership. Every single station north of Northgate (if not Northgate itself) will have more riders arriving by bus than on foot. By all means, try to develop the areas close to the freeway. But don’t pretend this was ever about that. Almost every station comes with a giant parking garage, to please those who live farther away, and don’t want to bother taking a bus to the station. They just assume that buses to the station will be poor, because they assume that density in the surrounding neighborhoods will remain extremely low. Folks who think that TOD next to the freeway is good urbanism are either delusional, or full of it.
“Most of the studies’ findings I’ve read have been very nuanced and even murky at times, calling for further investigation.”
Tisgwm, that is the definition of do no harm. Think through rezones, understand who lives there, and who will live there after the rezone. Too often folks on this blog want to treat the patient before examining the patient, which is why I use the do no harm analogy, which is really from medicine.
Nine points I try to make I am not sure some folks on this blog get are:
1. The future population estimates by the Dept. of Commerce are political under Inslee and inflated. One million more residents are not moving to this region over the next 20 years or 50,000/year, those estimates are pre-pandemic, and so far we are around 100,000 behind schedule if 1 million new residents are moving to this area that is having major layoffs in the major tech firms.
2. This entire region just went through a multi-year process with the GMPC to determine whether CURRENT zoning will meet the inflated future population growth estimates, and it was determined BY THE GMPC that every city except perhaps Sammamish has zoning that meets that city’s housing allocation through 2044. The zoning is there to meet each city’s future housing allocation. You can add to the zoning but it won’t make a difference in the amount of actual housing that is built, just where it is built.
3. You make a common mistake: you think zoning is construction. Yes, we need more housing units, but the zoning is there for them, and yet the construction is not because construction is influenced by financing, labor, materials, and profit, which often determine where that new housing is constructed.
4. Housing is not affordable housing. This is probably the biggest mistake made on this blog. In fact, it is the opposite because new construction is the least affordable per sf, and often replaces older more affordable housing. That was the entire point the rep FOR SEATTLE made during the hearings for HB 1110: what this region is doing is increasing the supply of new housing at the top end (due to high AMI) while reducing the supply of housing at the bottom end (see, The Central District and Columbia City). That is why, finally, gentrification and displacement of Black Seattleites is an important issue under ESB 1220, and King Co.’s subcommittee on affordable housing is working right now to determine how to create affordable housing in town centers because that is within walkable transit and retail without displacing poor and brown citizens. HB 1110 is zoning that will require most new residents to own a car because the neighborhoods are not served by transit, which is why the Senate reinserted the parking mandates under HB 1110.
5. Don’t believe builders and realtors when they claim zoning that increases market rate housing will produce affordable housing. That is just so naive. The builders and realtors fought tooth and nail to prevent ANY affordability mandates in HB 1110, or any of the upzoning bills this year.
6. A very large part of our affordable housing crisis is a crisis of living alone. If you have a region with an AMI between $106,000 for King Co., $115,000 for Seattle, and $127,000 for all of Bellevue, a single person has around $2900/mo. to spend on housing. That is not a housing crisis. Someone earning 70% AMI has around $2000. Two persons earning 50% AMI each have $2900 for a two bedroom. Our housing affordable crisis applies to a very narrow band: those earning between 30% and 50% AMI who live alone.
7. Affordable housing is not supportive housing. If someone is living on the street they have a zero residual earning capacity so the housing must cost nothing, unless they can be rehabilitated. But building market rate housing for folks with a residual wage-earning capacity between 0% and 30%, and 30% and 50% if living alone, will never house those folks, so folks need to stop buying into the red herring that upzoning will prevent homelessness.
8. There are two main ways to subsidize affordable housing: 1. public subsidies, which are expensive unless recipients increase the residual wage-earning capacity and contribute to their rent; and 2. incentives (or mandates) to developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing units in a new project, usually through additional regulatory limits like height in large multi-family building, incentives that are not available in the SFH, which is why HB 1110 has no affordability incentives in the SFH zones. It will be 100% market rate housing. Most developers as I am sure you know prefer a fee in lieu of unless the affordable units are 80% or higher because market rate tenants or purchasers don’t like to live with folks with an AMI 70% or lower.
9. Blanket zoning or rezoning almost never works. If there is one thing this region does wrong, especially Seattle, is it doesn’t identify a certain area and master plan for that area with specific zoning. Instead it is like a swimming pool without walls so the housing and retail disperses throughout the region to the lowest level.
Do know harm means you think very carefully before rezoning, understand the impacts to the local residents and most vulnerable, don’t see it through some progressive prism because the folks who actually build the housing are right wing, and understand what we have done in the past has not worked despite massive upzones in Seattle.
“Frankly, I got the impression that member Baker doesn’t support the infill station anyway, and he clearly doesn’t understand its purpose with regard to the local bus network, based on the comments he gave.”
I think a lot of cities — including MI — feel they got sold a fraud when it came to Link.
When the levies were being floated ST concentrated on how Link would revitalize and “urbanize” an area. Struggling areas or cities from 130th to Lynnwood would suddenly become Totem Lake (Lynnwood would become Bellevue), with a vibrant mall and high-end multi-family housing for sophisticated white-collar workers commuting to Seattle and back, surrounded by SFH, with tons of tax revenue. Mercer Island thought finally our town center would get revitalized, with some new mixed-use development, upgraded multi-family housing, and ideally some hip restaurants and bars, even though we should have noted decades of buses had not revitalized anything.
Instead what these areas got was a bus intercept, because it turns out folks don’t like to live next to a freeway, or in TOD, or in multi-family or they would live in downtown Seattle or Capitol Hill or Ballard. Rather than Totem Lake, 130th and every city north to Lynnwood got 3rd Ave. in Seattle.
There are few things worse for a city than a bus intercept. Buses are loud, smelly, and lower class, they have layovers and clog the streets, which Link said it was not. Link was high class. The riders never stop for a drink or to eat or shop between their transfers. They just want to get to work or get home as soon as possible, and what can you carry on a bus or train.
Then the areas like 130th and north realized the kind of “TOD” you get along I-5. Cheap, shlocky, low income, no-retail, low tax base, like you see going south to Tacoma along I-5, with a meth cooker in the back. Not all those white-collar workers commuting to Seattle in suits and ties.
So whether 130th or MI you realize you don’t want a light rail station. There is no benefit to you. All you really got was a bus intercept. The peak commuter is gone. No one is taking transit anyway, and who knows when East Link will open, and none of the stations will be developed as promised. U Village couldn’t be any farther away from a light rail station if it tried. Instead, you can go to Wilburton or “The Spring Dist.” or Overlake on a train, a total waste of life if you own a car, and who doesn’t.
Then ST becomes desperate to come close to its dishonest ridership estimates so it demands cities and neighborhoods in residential areas along Link upzone as though it is still 2019 so lots of transient renters and transit riders can move in, even though they won’t ride Link either but have no parking minimums.
That is how it is on MI. If a vote were taken today, with what we know now, a majority of residents would vote to not have a Link station on MI, even though our bus intercept got cut in half. I think 130th is feeling the same. We could just drive to S. Bellevue instead of the MI park and ride if we really wanted to ride Link, no one will, no one is going to downtown Seattle, and Harrell has about zero chance of revitalizing downtown Seattle.
For many of the cities and neighborhoods with stations along Link Link is a negative, and whenever is having a train in your neighborhood a positive? They are just bus intercepts for travelers passing through, like 3rd Ave. Any TOD they get will be low class and cheap because it is along I-5 and the peak commuter is gone, and it will occur to these cities Totem Lake (and Bellevue and Kirkland) didn’t want Link stations near them either.
“All of this makes the golf course very frustrating. ”
Glad they’ve improved the parks a bit. The park by the library was active when I lived there, but last time I visited it was a homeless encampment.
Virgil Flaime was about the best there was, as far as space for teenage things, but it was pretty desolate, with a corner dedicated to day-drinkers. And it was also small. I’m glad they were able to push through the skate park. I was worried the concern-trolls were going to win that one.
Cedar Park was great, but it’s now very limited use, given the school reopened.
In any case, my point was no park “of any size”. I am concerned about the middle and high-schoolers in the high-density, extremely poor neighborhoods with parents who often can’t afford a car, like in the link you put in there along 33rd, as well as up nearer to 145th on the other side of LCW. There is really nothing for them, and a bored teenager is usually going to find something fun to do, whether it’s sanctioned or not. And that might not be what their parents or the law would prefer they be doing.
Space to play pick-up baseball, or football (both kinds) or hoops, or whatever they want. As well as a community center for the wet season. That’s what the golf course should be. If it included dense housing, that would be a bonus.
As a compromise, in Albuquerque the golf course near me was double fenced with walking and running paths as well a cut-through down the middle. Chambers Bay down here near Tacoma is the same, and used by crowds of people daily, even without a destination. With both the stations open, that would create even greater need and reason for use.
At the very least they should tear down the barbed wire and provide that minor access, but it really should be a full conversion, if there is any justice in the world, and the mayor and city council aren’t just paying lip-service to equity.
“Citation please! Seriously, I attended numerous meetings leading up to the 130th Station being approved (and then sped up). There was very little objection to upzoning.”
I’m really glad to hear that.
Maybe 10 years made a difference, or maybe just that we lived in neighborhood further east in Lake City, not Pinehurst, and there were different opinions. Or maybe the folks I talked to was simply too small a sample size and unrepresentative.
I’d love to have some survey data, and we can find out for sure. Given how HALA and MHA went down in flames, I assumed upzoning was extremely unpopular among homeownders, but maybe Pinehurst is different. Or maybe times have changed.
Those are really great points!
Seattle’s problem I think is Capitol Hill. It’s a great neighborhood, I used to live there and I still love it. But its popularity makes it expensive.
What I see young Seattle urbanists trying to do is build something like Capitol Hill, (or Wallingford) in other places in the City, because that’s where they want to live. It’s mainly college educated White people who want an affordable urban lifestyle. These folks have already pushed out much of blue collar population, the non-White population. But then yuppies are an invasive species that promote gentrification. Transit projects and TOD (transit oriented development) has been used to speed up yuppie gentrification in cities all over the USA. Los Angeles wiped out its Chinatown with never building commuter rail projects. Now high-rise buildings can go up for the wealthy. That’s not the population I want my public transit dollars supporting
The question this blog never tries to answer is… Is transit for today and people who live here now? Or is it for the future? They’re absolutely not the same thing. In fact many posters here have went on and on about billions for light rail (future transit) while bus transit (today’s transit) has cratered. Driver shortage? No, it’s a lack of public will to fully fund Metro, CT and PT because the light rail boondoggle drained off billions….there’s nothing left for the bus system…. and let’s be honest, it’s the poor people who ride the bus Seattle has no interest in.
As of now Seattle is still a Mecca for the tech industry, so any zoning changes are mostly (completely?) going to build housing for upper income folks. It’s a free market after all. I wish we could have a little more honesty about the future of the City.
“Is transit for today and people who live here now? Or is it for the future?”
Both of course. Are one set of people less deserving of transit than others?
“They’re absolutely not the same thing.”
So what do you think the difference is?
Politicians often focus only on future riders and future upzoned development. It’s us who say the existing riders are underserved now. Ballard Link and improving the 44 and 40 isn’t just for future apartments along 15th: it’s because the neighborhood is already large enough and transit-oriented enough to deserve better transit. A lot of people go to the existing Ballard Avenue bars and businesses and farmers’ market or live around there, and there’s a hospital in the neigborhood. People would go to the neighborhood more and take transit to it more if it had better transit access. Any future development is on top of that baseline.
“In fact many posters here have went on and on about billions for light rail (future transit) while bus transit (today’s transit) has cratered.”
Most authors and commentators strongly support better bus service, and have made many suggestions for it, and have supported bus campaigns like Seattle’s TBD, Metro levies, Transit Now, Move Seattle, and things like that around the region. The number of rail-only advocates is around one or two.
“Driver shortage? No, it’s a lack of public will to fully fund Metro, CT and PT because the light rail boondoggle drained off billions”
The driver shortage has nothing to do with whether some Link projects were approved or not. The agencies have the money to operate their full schedule: there just aren’t enough qualified drivers available. It’s a nationwide problem, not just the local agencies.
The governments/public have never been willing to fund Metro/CT/PT adequately. That goes back decades, long before Sound Transit or Link. The governments/public are more willing to fully fund ST than the local bus agencies, but that’s not STB’s position or not STB’s fault. We want them to fully fund a robust bus network, and to give the local agencies more leeway so they can pursue bigger projects, like getting all two dozen RapidRide lines built, and perhaps Seattle-level rail or Metro-level rail. Then we wouldn’t need ST so much, or for ST to do so much. But the governments haven’t been willing to do that.
“it’s the poor people who ride the bus Seattle has no interest in.”
You should ride Metro sometimes. If your route has a lot of poor people, try a few other routes. There are lots of middle-class riders on Metro, and lots of choice riders.
PT is more of a poor riders’ network, because the network is so minimal and unusable that others can’t tolerate it.
> What I see young Seattle urbanists trying to do is build something like Capitol Hill, (or Wallingford) in other places in the City, because that’s where they want to live. It’s mainly college educated White people who want an affordable urban lifestyle. These folks have already pushed out much of blue collar population, the non-White population. But then yuppies are an invasive species that promote gentrification. Transit projects and TOD (transit oriented development) has been used to speed up yuppie gentrification in cities all over the USA. Los Angeles wiped out its Chinatown with never building commuter rail projects. Now high-rise buildings can go up for the wealthy. That’s not the population I want my public transit dollars supporting
I’m a bit confused at this analysis, it’s not as if single family homes areas haven’t gone up in price drastically as well. The eastside has gone up even more. And more importantly, if you didn’t build these apartments, it’s not as if these people suddenly vanish — they’ll just be buying/renting single family homes instead.
Also we already know what happens when we don’t build enough housing with the Bay Area’s example of 3 jobs for every new housing unit versus ~1.5 in King County, leading to extreme rent/housing prices in the Bay Area.
These folks have already pushed out much of blue collar population, the non-White population.
That is not what happened. At least not for most of the area. In places that have not seen an increase in density, the increased cost of housing has sent some people elsewhere. But for places where housing has increased, it is mostly just a lot of white people moving in. This means the ratio has changed (in many cases dramatically) but the overall number of black people hasn’t gone down. Or at least it hasn’t gone down much, and is more the result of decreasing birth levels (which is generally the result of gentrification in the local African American community).
There are a few reasons why so many white people moved in to historically black neighborhoods. First, there is the realization amongst a lot of white people that cities don’t suck. There was a time when lots of white people held the same sort of attitude towards the Central Area that Daniel expresses about downtown. I won’t go into its roots, but it was common in America. At some point, a lot of white people (especially young people, and especially young gay people) realized it was nonsense. These communities weren’t “hell holes”; they were fine. They were, quite often, very nice and especially convenient.
Then there was the tech boom. The tech industry is disproportionately white and Asian, with relatively few black or Latino people in it. Thus as Amazon increased its numbers, new residents were disproportionately white and Asian. If the industry was more diverse — or if a more diverse industry employed a lot more people — it is likely that the racial demographics would have been similar.
Of course another reason for the changing demographics is just desegregation. Black people can live anywhere now, so many live in other parts of town. A lot of home owners “cashed out”, and moved somewhere else. A lot of children are now of mixed race (like the mayor). It is just like Ballard. The Scandinavian heritage is hard to spot anymore, but there are still plenty of that lineage.
In terms of displacement though, the big problem is lack of new housing. We saw a huge increase in new jobs, but not a similar increase in new housing. This pushed up the cost of housing (in every neighborhood). Ideally the city would have adopted policies that actually encourage the development of housing (instead of the opposite) but they haven’t.
Given how HALA and MHA went down in flames, I assumed upzoning was extremely unpopular among homeowners.
Yes, it was, definitely. But those homeowners — who likely represent a minority of homeowners — were largely clustered in fancier neighborhoods. I get it, really. One of the selling points of say, Wallingford, is that you can walk around the neighborhood, and enjoy all the pleasant houses with their interesting landscaping. I’m not saying that Pinehurst doesn’t have that to some degree, but it is far more middle class. The lots are bigger, which means the gaps between houses are also bigger. The landscaping tends to be less fancy (in part because people have less money, but also because they have more land to maintain). Most of the houses are smaller, although some of the newer ones are big (mostly because it doesn’t cost that much more now to build a bigger house, and the price of housing in Seattle is really high). Even then, the bigger houses aren’t particularly attractive.
What is true of Pinehurst is true of much of the city. It is really forgotten in the debate. People will routinely mention 5,000 square foot lots, completely ignoring that most of the city is zoned for 7,200 square foot lots, and many of those lots are bigger. There is an assumption that the old city borders still apply. The area outside it — which makes up a big chunk of the city — is a land of no sidewalks and big lots. Except for the view property (e. g. Broadview) it is much more middle class than places to the south. There are exceptions, but just like a lot of the northern and southern suburbs, there is a “Drive until you qualify” mentality. Pinehurst is nice, but my guess is given the chance, most of the people here would rather live on top of Maple Leaf or Ravenna (just like a lot of people in Shoreline would rather live here). As a result, people tend to be less freaked out about whether a house or apartment goes up near them.
Again, except for the trees. People very much want to see the trees preserved, but from what I can tell, they don’t care what causes it. Unfortunately, the tree preservationists often make an alliance with those that want to preserve single family homes, using it as an excuse to slow down development.
The frustrating part about this part of town (and this includes many places on both ends of town) is that it is where the zoning makes the biggest difference. A small house on a big lot is not long for this world. With more liberal zoning, it could house a lot of people for relatively little money. In contrast, a big house on a big lot can be replaced by an apartment, but except for a house conversion, that is a lot more expensive. Yet it is the folks in areas that are less likely to change that are most resistant to it.
“The frustrating part about this part of town (and this includes many places on both ends of town) is that it is where the zoning makes the biggest difference. A small house on a big lot is not long for this world. With more liberal zoning, it could house a lot of people for relatively little money. In contrast, a big house on a big lot can be replaced by an apartment, but except for a house conversion, that is a lot more expensive. Yet it is the folks in areas that are less likely to change that are most resistant to it.”
I doubt new construction in a Seattle SFH zone “could house a lot of people for relatively little money”. It might be less expensive than a new SFH per sf depending on the number of people living in the SFH, but probably more expensive than the older SFH home the new construction replaces. Even on a 7200 sf lot.
Without reopening a can of worms, this goes back to the discussion some of us had on this blog about zoning yesterday, regulatory limits vs. use zoning. When Seattle adopted its upzone that allowed three dwellings per SFH lot (use zoning) it adopted a GFAR (gross floor area to lot area ratio) that I don’t think Seattle had before (many cities just use the regulatory limits to determine the footprint X height to control GFAR). The GFAR the council adopted in part to allow three dwelling per lot was 50% as a tradeoff to SFH owners, which then applied to SFH’s as well.
In my experience on MI, 45% GFAR is around the point a SFH begins to look like a McMansion (Bellevue allows 45% which is why the houses look much larger for the lot size). Usually there is some hidden “exempt” GFA from GFAR like clerestory space (as there was on MI) or GFA below grade which can boost actual GFAR (the volume of the buildings) to 50%, and at that point the houses really do look out of scale for the lot. Of course so do three or four separate dwellings if they equal 50% GFAR. It is the GFAR and regulatory limits that determine GFA to lot area and what is often called “massing”: a building(s) out of scale for the lot and neighborhood.
HB 1110 will allow four plexes per lot, an increase of one dwelling over Seattle’s current zoning (or six if two are 60% AMI, but no builder will take market rate GFA from the four market rate units to create the two affordable units, and this was one of the most dishonest parts of HB 1110 because builders and developers adamantly opposed affordability mandates). But the GFAR will not change from 50% if the city does not change it for a four plex. More but smaller dwellings.
Zoning often does not determine what builders build. Financing does, and profit does, and risk does. So far, not that many SFH lots in Seattle have been converted to three separate dwellings, although the ADU/DADU is popular. I have heard Seattle’s rental rules, including the new $10 cap on late rent fees, will drive a lot of the SFH rental landlords out of the market (and many have left which is why poor families can’t find affordable housing), but what happens then is the rental SFH is bought by folks wanting to live in it, redevelop it into a SFH, and often eliminate the ADU.
When you allow builders 50% GFAR for a SFH it is going to make it more attractive for them to build a SFH rather than a three or four plex. Builders don’t care about number of housing units: they care about risk and profit. The nice thing about a new SFH is it sells fee simple, which means the builder cashes out, has no requirement to rent, and the sale returns their capital for their next project. If a new apartment or other smaller dwelling on a SFH lot really was “very little money (relatively)” builders will never build that. Why would they?
IMO, over the next several years we will see way more new SFH houses on Seattle SFH lots despite Seattle’s 2017 upzone or HB 1110 rather than three or four dwellings because: 1. risk to the builder AND bank in this market; 2. rising apartment vacancy rates; 3. layoffs in the major tech companies; 4.the cost of financing and ability to get financing which is influenced by the risk; and 5. the desire if built on spec — and spec homes will go way down just like 2008 — to sell and recoup the builder’s capital rather than rent when Seattle’s rental rules are punishing.
If there is going to be new multi-family construction in Seattle it is going to be in the multi-family zones with large lots and large regulatory limits for height and yard setbacks and GFAR where a developer can make a profit, except I doubt those projects will be able to get financing in this market.
In three or four years we should know better whether the future population growth estimates are accurate, the state of employment in the tech industry, and vacancy rates for existing apartments. If those three factors favor more construction, we will likely see more multi-family construction, but in the multi-family zones. If not, we won’t see any new construction, except SFH financed by the property owner. Like 2008.
When Seattle switched to council districts, it was an attempt by single-family nimbys to get more power over zoning, and their geographer created districts that split multifamily areas to make them a minority in the district, except for central Seattle which was too large for that. But what actually happened in the new districts was that pro-multifamily members tended to win — especially in north Seattle including the 130th area. Even many single-family homeowners see the need for more multifamily housing. Partly because they’re looking at how can their own kids remain in the region if the housing shortage keeps getting worse.
Seattle is in the middle of a long-term trend toward accepting more multifamily housing. It happens gradually, and over the years the opposition shrinks and becomes less intense. That doesn’t mean they’re ultra-progressive: sometimes they’ll side with progressives on other things, sometimes not.
“A lot of cities are waiting for King County’s subcommittee on affordable housing to formally recommend…”
The topic is the size and shape of buildings, not what percent are below-market rate. When the county figures out its affordability requirements, the new zoning level can be adjusted.
The reason to upzone now is to encourage denser buildings, and to avoid missing an opportunity if a building goes up under the old rules. Broadway had a 4-story zoning limit into the 2000s, even though less-commercial Bellevue Avenue was already 7-story and it wasn’t harming anybody. The QFC and Safeway lots at Broadway & Republican refused to build anything while a 4-story limit was in effect. The lot at the north end of Broadway a block from these, where the street diagonally so the building is highly visible, did get replaced with a 4-story building. Then a couple years later the 7-story upzone finally went through. So we lost the three stories of housing that 4-story building could have had. That’s what I’m worried about at 130th: that townhouses will be built right near the station, precluding denser buildings for another fifty years. That’s why it’s urgent to upzone the 130th station area now, even if it has to be adjusted again later.
“Harrell won 65% of the SFH vote against an opponent who promised “to abolish SFH zoning”.”
That was in the middle of a pandemic that caused an unprecedented wave of crime and homelessness. At the time you said, “Safety is the only issue” — meaning zoning wasn’t the issue. Voters only had two people to choose from, so they had to vote on one or two factors and accept the candidate’s other positions. That’s not a mandate to clamp down on zoning.
“My suggestion has been for Harrell to adopt Rice’s plan from the early 1990’s and create a U Village type walkable mall from the Convention Center to Pike Place Market”
It already has that. How would your vision be different, besides being safer? Just having free parking?
“Baker is naive if he thinks true multi-family housing — apartment projects — can get financing in this market,”
“This market” will only last a year or two until the next market comes along. The upzone is for a decades-long horizon, when the market will undoubtedly be different and change multiple times.
“Housing is not affordable housing. This is probably the biggest mistake made on this blog.”
That’s a strawman arguement you keep making. Again, the main focus is the size and shape of buildings, allowing more people to live within walking distance of a Link station so they don’t need a bus transfer. Even if it’s 100% market-rate housing, it’s still worthwhile. There will doubtless be some number of units reserved for subsidized housing, but that’s a separate issue. And you’re ignoring the fact that more housing reduces the competition for each unit, which relieves one of the pressures driving prices up.
“Immigrants live in old SFH because they have kids and several generations living together”
Most probably live in apartments. How can a lower-income immigrant family buy a $700K house? And some who are in a house are renting it. You focus on a small subset of wealthiest mid-immigrants who can afford a house, and claim that’s the majority of lower-income immigrants. That just ends up benefitting wealthier non-immigrants.
“Again, the main focus is the size and shape of buildings, allowing more people to live within walking distance of a Link station so they don’t need a bus transfer. Even if it’s 100% market-rate housing, it’s still worthwhile.”
No Mike, the focus is on creating affordable housing. The size and shape of buildings is mostly determined by lot size, along with the regulatory limits for the zone. If you have a 6000 sf residential lot with fairly limited regulatory limits common in most residential zones for height, yard setbacks, impervious surface limits and gross area to lot area ratio the size and shape of the building (envelope) is limited, and a builder even if allowed is not going to build a 4-7 story wood framed building on such a small envelope.
If creating affordable housing is not the focus then there is no moral argument to upzoning, so leave it up to the neighborhood, unless you represent the builders and realtors. You personally like a certain style of housing — middle housing which ranges from around 2 to 7 stories but has nothing special about it except it is more restrictive than taller and denser buildings and tends to be cheap looking — but if those buildings don’t create any affordable housing and are just market rate then the preference of the folks who live in the neighborhood controls IMO. If I prefer SFH, or 50 story buildings, that does not mean I should be able to force that on Capitol Hill, and Capitol Hill’s height limits are artificial too.
“There will doubtless be some number of units reserved for subsidized housing, but that’s a separate issue.”
No Mike, that is not true. You need to read the proposed upzoning bills — although only HB1100 survives. There are no affordability mandates at all. 100% market rate housing.
What you are really talking about are commercial and multi-family zones in your zoning paradigm, wood framed, and I agree with Seattle’s approach to its UGA’s although the boundaries are too large so there is little density within the UGA. These areas including town centers like MI have walkable access to retail, and to transit like light rail although Link serves such a tiny walkshed in most areas, and the lots are large enough to pencil out. Plus these zones have flexible regulatory limits that allow cities to trade increased height or other regulatory limits for affordable housing set asides without any cost to the city. You can’t do any of that in a SFH zone.
Your vision is not new. The PSRC has made it the cornerstone of its 2035 and 2050 Vision Statements, which is why every city has already met its 2044 GMPC housing growth targets. The zoning has been concentrated in multi-family zones and town centers because that is what the PSRC has told cities to do for the last 20 years, because that is where there is walkable transit, walkable retail, large lots, and flexible regulatory limits to incentivize — and mandate — affordable housing.
MI hasn’t had any new mixed-use development in its town center for a decade, despite empty lots, a five-story height limit, surface parking lots, a location between Seattle and Bellevue, and great schools and public safety. I am not sure why.. The zoning is there, the city would love some development, the citizens would love some retail vibrancy, but instead we get the legislature upzoning our remote SFH zones (although it turns out HB 1110 for cities between 25,000 and 75,000 citizens will require only two dwellings per lot, if wanted, and MI already does that with its DADU policy, although HB 1110 allows a two car per unit parking limit when our DADU policy today requires no onsite parking for the DADU, but I expect that to change to mirror HB 1110).
Lower income immigrants are not buying houses in Seattle. Who said they were? Or condos. They don’t rent on Capitol Hill either. They also don’t care about the size and shape of the building they live in. They live in older SFH in modest or poor neighborhoods because per household resident that is by far the cheapest form of housing. It always has been, because they don’t live alone like so many on this blog. If new construction replaces that SFH they will look for another older SFH until it is redeveloped.
One thing we do agree on is the future will be different than we think it will be. Look how the pandemic in less than three years totally upended the PSRC’s vision of TOD, transit, Link, urbanism, vibrant city cores, commuting, etc. I think population growth in this region will be flat over the next 10 years with so many major employers laying off workers, the region will continue to deurbanize, and we will continue to see rising vacancy rates which will depress new construction and financing, although that won’t create much affordable housing because we have built so much housing for the 100%+ AMI crowd, and that is what will be vacant.
I remember in just 2019 how the region was going to urbanize, the region would grow by 1 million residents in 20 years, our poop didn’t smell, and we would all live in TOD by ourselves and take Link to a booming, safe and vibrant downtown Seattle. That dream is dead. Upzoning is about five years late.
DT: “Housing is not affordable housing. This is probably the biggest mistake made on this blog.”
MO: “That’s a strawman arguement you keep making…..”
Exactly. Commenter Daniel T does this frequently and thus I’m not surprised he did it here as well. Frankly his arguments regarding housing and rezoning are hardly persuasive and on some of the factual stuff he’s just plain wrong. Like his claim that upzones don’t create any additional GFA. Nonsense. He also frequently overgeneralizes with regard to how zoning regulations work, as if one jurisdiction’s zoning scheme will apply universally to every other jurisdiction’s scheme. For example, I have tried to push back against his assertions regarding bulk regulations, i.e., that these have to be consistent within a specific zoning category. This just isn’t the case where I live in unincorporated SnoCo and Daniel T would realize this if he ultimately took the time to do a little reasearch. (The type of improvement on the parcel comes into play as well as the location of the specified parcels within said zone.) When replying to one of his comments about this subject matter, I try to be very clear that I’m not addressing the affordability issue, for as I have stated previously I think that’s a complicated matter and warrants a whole other discussion. I’m not suggesting that’s not a worthy conversation to have but my replies were meant to be very directed ones, i.e., knocking down the inaccurate assertions.
“Like his claim that upzones don’t create any additional GFA”.
Tisgwm, for a smart guy I have tried to explain this to you a dozen times and you just don’t get it.
Yes, if you upzone (increase) regulatory limits for lots you will allow additional GFAR. For example, if you increase height, you can build a taller house or building and that creates additional GFA. That is the upzone you are talking about on your lot. No one is disputing that.
If you upzone just use (multi-family for a residential zone) but not regulatory limits, no you don’t create additional GFAR, and HB 1110 does not require a city to increase regulatory limits for any upzoned parcel (although it does allow a two-parking spot minimum per unit, more than for a SFH or SFH + DADU). Seattle’s recent upzone in 2017 allowed three units but no additional GFARA. SFH, SFH + DADU, duplex, four plex all have the same regulatory limits, so total GFA is the same despite the number of units. I just don’t know why you don’t understand this.
Finally, when it comes to minimum lot sizes yes, if a city changes the minimum lot size to subdivide you have more lots and more units per lot. Basically it is a subdivision, but if the regulatory limits don’t change you still end up with the same maximum GFA.
For example, if I have a 15,000 sf lot with a 40 % GFAR limit that means I can build a house on that single lot that is 6000 sf (40% of 15,000 sf). If I can divide that lot into three parcels, but each still has a 40% GFAR limit, then I can build …. drum roll…. three houses that are each 2000 sf, which multiplied by 3 equals….drum roll…. 6000 total sf GFA.
When you talk about GFA bonus incentives THAT IS AN UPZONE OF REGULATORY LIMITS. It isn’t the allowance of multi-family housing on the parcel that increases GFAR, it is the bonus incentive. For example, I have previously noted that on MI a DADU gets an additional 5% of lot area for lots below 10,000 sf. The “upzone” wasn’t allowing a DADU because the DADU was always allowed; the “upzone” was the additional GFAR which is an upzone of regulatory limits. MI like most areas also allows additional height for affordable set asides, but those incentives are only allowed in the commercial/multi-family zones in almost every jurisdiction I am familiar with. Seattle also allows the MFTE which some of us think is a scam.
I am just not sure you understand that when you use the generic term “upzone” you understand there are different forms of zoning applicable to any lot. Only regulatory limits determine the size and scale of what you can built. A lot of folks don’t understand that. You are not the only one.
There is one upzoning bill left before the legislature. It is HB 1110. Depending on a city’s population it mandates that cities allows a certain number of dwellings on residential lots. But it does not change that city’s regulatory limits.
For MI that falls between 25,000 and 75,000 residents the required minimum number of units per lot is two, which is exactly what is allowed today with our DADU. The regulatory limits whether a SFH, or SFH + DADU, remain the same, although my guess is the 5% bonus GFA for a DADU will be eliminated so it is not applicable to a duplex, so in reality HB 1110 will result in less GFAR per lot for more than one unit.
A city can change any of its zoning, including regulatory limits. But if you want to increase the GFAR per lot the only way to do that is to increase the regulatory limits.
“No Mike, the focus is on creating affordable housing.”
Where did you get that from? Is that why you keep falsely equating upzoning with adding affordable (=far below-market rate) housing? Adding affordable housing is a side effect of upzoning but it’s not its main effect or purpose. Its main purpose is to increase the total number of housing units. That’s what the people who pushed the city to upzone 130th wanted.
“You need to read the proposed upzoning bills — although only HB1100 survives”
This is not about the upzoning bills. It’s about a separate request to upzone the 130th station area neighborhood. That was a promise the city made when 130th Station was approved. The station is worthwhile even without an upzone because it facilitates bus feeders to Lake City and Angle Lake, but an upzone would make it even better.
Mike, this is from 2019 and why I thought upzoning was about creating affordable housing. In fact, in 2017 and 2019 the upzoning in Seattle was called MHA, “mandatory affordable housing”, although it was just upzoning.
I watched quite a few of the hearings for the various upzoning bills this legislative term, and creating affordable housing was the primary basis for upzoning. In fact, the Master Builders Assoc. uses its shell for most of its political action and contribution, The Affordable Housing Council, although the MBA is adamantly opposed to affordability mandates.
Few things other than climate change have been coopted like upzoning to earn a buck. Because if the goal is to simply zone enough capacity– even for the inflated future population estimates issued by the DOC — the GMPC just last year found that cities in western WA have already zoned for that future housing need.
For the life of me I don’t know why upzoning advocates never acknowledge that a very progressive agency, the GMPC, who are experts in zoning and housing capacity, determined that the cities in this region had all met their zoning requirements for housing through 2044. Do you disbelieve the findings of the GMPC?
If you are talking about TOD at the station at 130th, I will be interested to see who really is interested in building that, or living in it, with the loss of the Seattle work commuter. That housing could actually be somewhat affordable even though new because who builds high end housing along I-5, which is why I think Baker is turning sour on a light rail station at 130th. If the goal of TOD at 130th is to somehow manufacture the ridership to meet ST’s estimates good luck. If we have learned anything recently, it is if you want people to actually live in TOD don’t put it along I-5, and ideally put Link underground.
Upzoning is just upzoning: allowing more stories or units or commercial uses on a lot. Requiring a certain percent of units to be below-market is not UPzoning; it’s kind of sideways zoning. It can be an additional regulation within an upzoning proposal, but it’s not upzoning itself. When urbanists or 130th activists or others say they want an upzone, it means the total number of allowed units, not whether some of them are below-market or not. That’s a secondary issue. The housing bills in Washington, and the reason Oregon and Minneapolis banned single-family zones, was to increase the total number of units, especially near transit. The number of implied below-market units is a small fraction of that.
I don’t think below-market housing should be tied to upzoning at all. Even if all the below-market units in an upzone are built, it’s still far below the number of needed units. And it depends on new units being built every year, which is at the developers’ whim. If the units revert to market-rate after twenty or fifty years, then the number of affordble units will go down while the need is still there. Instead of tying below-market housing to upzones or requiring a certain percent of affordable units in new regular development, the cities and counties should focus on buying land and building affordable housing, or arranging deals and incentives and tax structures to get the private sector to do it, rather than just requiring a quarter of new construction to be below-market and assuming that will be enough. The full upzones should occur anyway for other reasons.
“Do you disbelieve the findings of the GMPC?”
I believe they’re only extending the status quo. They’re addressing the number of future residents expected, but they’re not addressing the backlog in existing housing needs. That’s why prices continue to accelerate, because we’re not addressing that backlog. And if they just extend the status quo proportional to the number of future residents, then the backlog will continue to get worse. In the 2010s, Seattle apparently met its targets because I didn’t hear of any sanctions, but it built only 9 units each year for every 12 added jobs, so the backlog got worse.
“If you are talking about TOD at the station at 130th, I will be interested to see who really is interested in building that, or living in it, with the loss of the Seattle work commuter.”
Who lives in Lake City now? Why do they live there? Not because they all work in downtown Seattle. Many work elsewhere, and some are disabled and can’t work, or are college students, or grade-school students, etc.
Who will live in the walkshed of 130th Station? People who want to walk to a Link station but can’t afford central Seattle or the U-District. People who want any apartment and this is the best they can find. People who drive to the 145th freeway entrance or to Kenmore. There are similar apartments on 8th Ave NE in the U-District, at the Ash Way P&R, and near many other freeway locations, and they’re not empty. People may not want to live next to a freeway but it was the best vacancy they could find.
“If we have learned anything recently, it is if you want people to actually live in TOD don’t put it along I-5, and ideally put Link underground.”
Of course, but we lost that battle. We tried to get Lynnwood Link along 99. So we have to put housing where the stations are.
“manufacture the ridership to approximate ST’s estimates.”
It’s not about ST’s estimates. I don’t care about that. It’s about giving more people the opportunity to live within walking distance of a station if they want to. It’s about making live more convenient for a larger percent of the population.
“ When Seattle switched to council districts, it was an attempt by single-family nimbys to get more power over zoning”
Ah, no. Not exactly. I know people on this blog like to believe that SFH owners represent some Deep State working against the interests of the average citizen, but the switch to council districts via Charter Amendment 19 had little to do with SFHs or SFZ.
It actually had more to do with business interests and transportation. It was packaged as a populist movement to take back city hall from big business and the DSA, and to reduce the costs of city council elections to get better representation in government by the little guys who supposedly had purer ideas and motivations.
The transportation element came in because most of the proponents were refugees of the failed monorail effort who blamed city hall and the DSA for the SMP’s collapse. They were generally cantankerous souls who had multiple beefs with the city on subjects ranging from Link to the stadiums. Peter Sherwin and Cleve Stockmeyer were typical. Sherwin hated road diets and crosswalk stings, and Cleve hated just about everything to do with DT Seattle and municipal development.
But the big money that pushed it over the line (on its third try) came from Faye Garneau. She was a north Aurora business owner that hated the changes coming to Aurora. In particular she hated the idea of BAT lanes and the loss of parking that she claimed came with it. Without her, and without the BAT lanes, we wouldn’t have district elections. But her beef had nothing to do with SFZ.
Faye went on to local fame as one of the cities biggest Donald Trump supporters. She even hosted a local campaign even for him in 2016.
But she got it passed, and now we have a Balkanized city hall with the likes of Sawant and Herbold.
It might be time for a few weeks to the Amendment. We can do better.
If this were really mainly about providing “affordable” housing, then 100% of the new zoning capacity would be below-market, or we’d skip the upzone and just add affordability requirements to construction under current zoning, or we’d put all our attention on publicly buying or building subsidized units. Since the majority of new zoning capacity is market-rate, we’re not doing that. Instead we’re adding potential units, and more critically, adding units in closer-in areas where they’re most needed and wanted.
[Editor’s note. The comment by Lazarus was removed as it denigrated an entire neighborhood. It is one thing to say “meh”, about a place (as another commenter did about downtown Redmond). It is another to say that “it is a pit”. Calling Shoreline, Redmond, or the Central Area “a pit” is clearly in violation of the comment policy. ]
For the record, I would never refer to Shoreline, Redmond, or the Central area as “a pit”, and I don’t think I did. All 3 of those areas have good things to offer, although I don’t get to Redmond very often.
I can’t see what you deleted, so I must have been referring to something else.
My bad for being “colorful”.
I would never refer to Shoreline, Redmond, or the Central area as “a pit”
You wrote that “Pinehurst is a pit”. The fact that you wouldn’t write that about several other neighborhoods doesn’t make that insult any better.
The fact that you denigrated Pinehurst in that manner was in clear violation of the policies of this board. It was trolling at best, and disgusting at worse. I would never refer to a neighborhood in that manner. Any neighborhood.
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